Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/210/8545
National action needed against privatisation
Save Our Public Services
Privatisation is destroying health, education, transport,...
Blair's £47,000 pay rise - an insult to the low paid.
"PUBLIC SERVICES will be the battleground of the next government", predicted Coventry Socialist Party councillor Dave Nellist, national chair of the Socialist Alliance, before last week's election.
"Labour's manifesto boasts there will be no ideological barriers to the widespread introduction of private companies into health, education and social services. "Already 800 schools and 60 hospitals are built by private companies - whose first and legal duty is to provide a profit for their shareholders.
"This is fundamentally incompatible with the ethos of public services, of being democratically accountable."
A big majority agree with Dave Nellist. A new poll commissioned by public sector union UNISON shows that 78% of people oppose privatisation. Blair and his cronies have ignored this message.
Not content with underpaying public-sector workers they now add insult to injury by massively increasing their own salaries. Blair increased his by £47,000 a year, double the average wage. Blair's total salary is now 17 times more than an adult on the minimum wage.
Most trade union leaders kept quiet during the election campaign about New Labour's privatisation proposals, but are now reacting angrily.
Dave Prentis, general secretary of UNISON, said last weekend that there was a "catalogue of private sector companies, who have gone into the public sector thinking they can make a quick buck and failing miserably. Our members and the public have suffered as a result of their greed", he said.
He added that it's time the gloves came off in the battle against privatisation.
Mick Griffiths, a UNISON activist in Yorkshire, and a Socialist parliamentary candidate in last week's election, welcomes these belated warnings but thinks it's going to need more than fine words to stop Blair's privatisation plans.
Mick said: "We stopped privatisation in the NHS trust I work for through a determined battle involving unions and the local community. But as the experience of the Dudley hospital workers shows - who had over 80 days of strike action to try and stop services being privatised - it's going to need more than local battles.
"This is a full-frontal attack and a day of action or a demo won't be sufficient. We need co-ordinated national action, including strike action, to save our public services."
In The Socialist 15 June 2001: