Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/801/18246
Them & Us
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has accused Tory London Mayor Boris Johnson of 'having blood on his hands' following the death of a pensioner in Woolwich.
The FBU says the closure of the local fire station - part of the Mayor's cuts programme - meant that crews took longer to attend the emergency.
FBU regional secretary, Paul Embery, said the pensioner "while suffering from smoke inhalation, was still alive and semi-conscious when crews discovered him, so his chances of being saved would have increased dramatically had he been pulled from the fire two or three minutes earlier."
While university teaching and support staff have seen their pay steadily eroded in recent years, prompting strike action over a measly 1% pay offer, university vice-chancellors have seen their bank accounts swell with massive pay hikes, making them the new fat cats in education.
VCs' salaries in the Russell Group of elite universities have risen on average by over £20,000 last year, to nearly £300,000.
After pension contributions, that figure rises to £318,500. The outgoing head of UCL, Malcolm Grant, could have filled a wheelbarrow with his £41,077 rise, bringing his pay and pensions pot up to £365,432.
Perhaps these rises are 'performance related'? Not if Southampton Uni VC Don Nutbeam's award is anything to go by.
According to the Guardian, Don "celebrated a 13% plunge in undergraduate recruitment with a £19,016 rise".
Health and wealth
The government's £20-30 billion of NHS 'efficiency savings', ie cuts, has led to chronic staff shortages.
The lack of permanent staff in hospitals has led Trust managers to use private agencies to supply the necessary workers to keep services running.
But these agencies are charging up to £1,000 for a doctor, nurse, etc, for a single shift. Needless to say it's not the health workers who are pocketing this money but the health arms of large private equity firms such as Capita and Blackstone.
Cash strapped hospital trusts, already crippled through PFI privatisation contracts, are therefore facing a double whammy by having to fork out even more cash to provide full services.
The Con-Dem funding cuts in flood defences has resulted in at least £1 billion of damage to homes, shops and infrastructure after the wettest winter in England for over 250 years.
Even the government's own advisers have warned that a £500 million underspend will mean £3 billion of avoidable damage.
Now, new research published in Nature Climate Change says the increasing frequency of extreme weather events due to global warming - and also socio-economic factors such as developers building on flood plains, etc, - will see the annual economic cost rise from around €4.3 billion a year across the European Union today to a staggering €23 billion a year by 2050 without better flood protection.
In The Socialist 5 March 2014:
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