Northern Rock

IF BRANSON’S Virgin group succeed in taking over Northern Rock, possibly 1,000 jobs, out of a 6,000 workforce nationally, could be lost. Virgin Money now claim that, in order to meet the government’s three-year repayment deal, redundancies would be ‘unavoidable’.

The government has been trying to give the collapsed Northern Rock away, offering multi-million support for the fat-cat capitalist firm that takes over.

Northern Rock should be run to meet people’s needs, safeguarding both public money and workers’ jobs. Virgin, like any capitalist firm, aims only for profits. No to job losses! Nationalise Northern Rock, along with all the major banks, and run them under a system of democratic workers’ control and management.

Homes repossessed

MORE THAN 27,000 houses were repossessed by banks and building societies in Britain in 2007, the highest level since 1999.

Mortgage lenders warn that repossession numbers will almost certainly rise again in 2008 as the economy slows and the credit crunch snaps at more victims. Banks are getting fussier about who they lend to and are increasing the cost of credit to ‘bad borrowers’.

129,000 borrowers are currently more than three months in arrears with payments. At this stage, it is nowhere near the same level of crisis as in the USA where more than 1% of American households were hit with some stage of repossession proceedings in 2007. But it is serious enough to make the Bank of England’s recent 0.25% cut in base rates look puny.

Changing sides

KIM HOWELLS was, at the time of the 1984-5 miners’ strike, a research official with the National Union of Mineworkers. Now a minister with Britain’s foreign office, he has changed sides in the class struggle.

Recent pictures show Howell on a visit to Colombia along with that country’s defence minister, a general who is linked to right-wing paramilitary death squads and soldiers from High Mountain Brigades, a Colombian army unit notorious for killing and torturing trade unionists. Since 1991, well over 2,000 trade union activists have been victims of ‘extrajudicial killings’.

The director of the TUC-backed Justice for Colombia group attacked Howells for being photographed with assassins and torturers of trade unionists, pointing out that the British government is aiding Colombian military units that violate human rights.