Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/815/18779
Them & Us
Research in the British Journal of Psychiatry has shown that during the first two years of recession following the world capitalist financial meltdown in 2007, an additional 10,000 suicides were recorded across Europe and North America. Prior to the crash, suicide rates had been falling in Europe.
Experts point to unemployment, evictions and rising debt as the main risk factors leading to suicide during the recession.
Discount chain stores B&M, headed by former Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy, pays 68% of its 17,000-strong workforce the paltry minimum wage. The company's stock market flotation prospectus says the raising of the minimum wage last October to a paltry £6.31 an hour from £6.19 had cost it £1.4 million. Yet the profitable company (valued at £2.8 billion) can afford to shell out £50 million in fees to City 'advisers' in its stock market listing.
As the NHS continues to crumble under the hammer blows of funding cuts and privatisation the number of people waiting for treatment has hit three million for the first time in six years.
While NHS workers' pay rises are either being frozen or allowed to rise by a maximum of 1% by the government health bosses' pay continues to rocket. Some health trust executives have scooped £40,000 bonuses, pay increases of up to £30,000 and perks worth up to £10,000. Little wonder then that health workers are balloting to strike for a living wage.
Among the advanced capitalist countries the UK has one of the highest child mortality rates. Bournemouth University research reckons that 1,827 children's lives could have been saved if the UK simply met the Western average. The researchers put the cause of such a high mortality rate as due to high income inequality and a poorly funded National Health Service (NHS).
The mass media's fixation with alleged religious extremism in schools has been accompanied with an under-reporting of the huge rise in primary school class sizes. One in eight primary school pupils in England are being taught in classes over 30 children - above the government's statutory maximum.
When the coalition came into office there were around 1,000 infant classes of over 31 pupils. This year the figure has soared to nearly 3,000.
What's the point of joining a trade union? Well, on average, a trade union member earns £4,000 a year more than a non-union worker. Non-unionised workers are more likely to suffer wage cuts, zero-hour contracts and worse terms and conditions of employment.
Stop press: One Housing Group (OHG) worker and Unite convenor Bryan Kennedy has been sacked following his suspension and a disciplinary hearing. Last week, fellow Unite members took four days of industrial action in support of Bryan. OHG has a history of harassing and sacking trade union representatives.
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In The Socialist 18 June 2014:
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