Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/434/5118
Public services not private profit
THE CAMPAIGN "Public Services Not Private Profit" was instigated by civil service union PCS and involves 14 other unions . It was launched in the House of Commons on 29 March, where speeches from trade union general secretaries highlighted the sheer scale of privatisation across all sectors of society.
Privatisation in the civil and public services, railways, probation, prisons, education and so on demonstrate the insanity of the profit system. As these services are being privatised, the message is that only profit matters and there's no such thing as society.
John McInally, Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) national executive
More has been privatised under the Blair government than under the Thatcher and Major governments put together. And now we have the loans for peerages scandal. The real scandal behind that is that it's been loans for privatisation.
The PCS national executive committee has called for an independent inquiry into the links between companies giving loans to the Labour Party and then getting public contracts. Capita, where the chief executive Aldridge recently resigned, received billions of pounds in contracts for public services.
There's also a serious issue concerning the privatisation of records storage for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Workers whose jobs have been privatised from the DWP have then been made compulsorily redundant by Capita, using taxpayers' money. Very small numbers of workers are involved in this instance but there is a real threat that, as this government moves towards privatising more DWP core services, affecting larger numbers of workers, this practice will become more widespread.
Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS, made the point that the TUC should be organising the Public Services Not Private Profit Campaign. He called for full support for the Lobby of Parliament organised by the campaign on 27 June.
He also made a call for a demonstration and mass rally in London, to be followed by a day of action if the government is not prepared to move on these privatisations.
It's absolutely key that other unions must join the 14 already involved in the campaign, particularly UNISON.
We will do all we can to develop the campaign at grass roots level, across as many unions as possible.
The campaign is not just about a trade union bargaining position it's a political campaign. It's about an attempt to stop the disastrous privatisation of our public services.
Leaking pipes and floods of profit
BRITAIN'S BIGGEST water company, Thames Water, and other firms, are restricting nine million customers' use of water, banning hosepipes and sprinklers. They blame a particularly dry winter in south-east England.
But households are only responsible for around 20% of Britain's water use. And the privatised water companies lose billions of litres of water daily through leaks while piling up high profits.
Thames Water intends to raise water prices by 24% over the next four years, but it loses over 915 million litres per day from leakage before it reaches customers according to the water 'regulator' Ofwat.
Gary Smith of the GMB union says firms had failed to repair Britain's creaking water system. Reservoirs had been sold off or drained or filled in for residential developments but new ones had not been built.
Ofwat gives massive dividends to shareholders a higher priority than fixing these leaks. Hosepipe bans and water metering, favoured by many companies, deal with the symptoms of water shortage rather than the root causes. Even in the areas with least rainfall per person water companies are still using less then 10% of it. Profits keep flooding in even when the water supply is down to an expensive trickle.
Hosepipe bans and metering are inefficient ways of conserving water stocks, a short-term fix, penalising the poorest consumers to keep rich shareholders happy.
Water privatisation is a highly unpopular sell-off. Consumers literally can't live without the privatised companies' product. Water charges and restrictions led to massive campaigns of opposition in Ireland and Scotland, how long before they hit England and Wales too?
In The Socialist 6 April 2006: