Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/535/4162
Johnson's Prince of Darkness
LONDON'S NEW Tory mayor Boris Johnson has appointed a ruthless private equity businessman as his "first deputy mayor" in charge of transport. Trade unionists label Tim Parker the 'Prince of Darkness' - Parker has been in charge at the AA, Kwik-Fit and Clarks Shoes and has a reputation for cutting jobs while cutting himself a lucrative deal from the situation.
Parker pocketed £30 million for himself out of AA when he left last year after sacking a third of the workforce and saddling AA/SAGA with £4.8 billion of debt. He arrived in his own Porsche to sack workers at Clark's shoes in Somerset. He made £25 million from his sacking spree at Kwik-Fit. Parker's so rich, he can afford to work for a £1 salary - obviously anticipating more such 'good tidings' in future.
Johnson pledged in the Greater London elections to sign a 'no-strike deal' with London's transport unions, which the unions oppose. Parker's appointment signals Johnson's readiness, at some stage, to attack the strength of these unions, in particular the militant RMT union on the tubes. The contradiction between public transport and private profit, already increased by the public private partnership (PPP) scheme in London Underground, will become even sharper.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow, said: "The world's finest metro system does not need an asset-stripper or a Prince of Darkness. Tube users and workers have already had more than a bellyful of privatisation with the huge waste and failure of the PPP and the collapse of private tube firm Metronet."
Unfortunately former mayor Ken Livingstone started the move towards big business running London's tubes. He refused to fight the Labour government's private public partnership plans and appointed a former union-buster Bob Kylie as his own transport supremo with a huge salary plus £2 million when he left in 2006.
The unions (and transport users) should now take note of Johnson's plans and prepare for stormy times ahead.
In The Socialist 28 May 2008:
Socialist Party campaigns
Socialist Party women
Youth and crime
Socialist Party feature
International socialist analysis
Socialist Party review
Socialist Party workplace news