Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/179/7959
Hands Off Our Services
LAST WEEK'S Hatfield rail crash showed how inefficient and unsafe private enterprise is. This week, New Labour unveiled plans to expand the private sector's involvement in health, education etc, if it wins the next election.
Most of all, privatisation threatens safety. Train drivers' union ASLEF attacked last week's 'emergency summit' on rail safety for excluding them.
The unions could expose the huge staffing cuts which caused the railways' safety problems. Privatised industries always resist workers' protests on safety in case they cut profits.
Labour knows that direct Railtrack-style privatisation of education and the NHS is politically impossible. But they want private-sector consultants involved in running local education authority (LEA) services like administration. This is the thin end of the wedge.
Who wants this system? Big business. Waltham Forest New Labour council is privatising local education services. The company currently advising the council is PPI.
PPI's project manager John Haslett has a history of involvement in London LEAs that are already privatised or are being sold off (Islington, Haringey, Southwark and Camden).
But PPI is now being taken over by one of the companies bidding for Waltham Forest's education service contract - Group 4 Security! The company managing the process could potentially benefit from their special position and end up winning the contract.
Labour's plans would inevitably increase corruption in councils and make the Group 4s of this world rich. It would not improve services.
Such privatisation measures have come in because Labour, like the Tories before them, keep councils on a very tight lead financially.
Hackney council could be in the red by as much as £13 million. But it has had £50 million stolen from its government block grant over the last three years.
Three years ago, Hackney signed a contract with private company ITNet to provide revenue and benefit services. This private firm's incompetence may in those three years have lost Hackney £25 million. (See page 10).
Union branches, along with parents and users of services should organise a united fightback against privatisation, whether by the front door or the back door. Tell the private fat cats to keep their hands off our services!
In The Socialist 27 October 2000: