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From The Socialist newspaper, 11 February 2009

Fast news

Australia bush fires

AUSTRALIA'S STATE and federal governments have blamed arsonists for the devastating bush fires. However, the vast majority were a result of the extreme weather conditions. Did these governments do everything in their power to mitigate the worst effects of the fires?

For years rural communities have been hit hard by cuts to services. Fire fighting and emergency services budgets have been slashed. There is a severe shortage of doctors, nurses and emergency services staff and this cost people their lives in a time of crisis.

In Victoria the Labour-run state government only allocates $252 million a year for rural fire prevention. For a country covered with bush and prone to extreme weather this is totally inadequate.

On top of the cuts and lack of investment in prevention, rural fire-fighting relies almost entirely on unpaid volunteers. While the work of these volunteers is amazing, less than 2% of those who fight fires in Victoria are full-time professionals.

See www.socialistworld.net

Leaking jobs

WORKERS AT Thames Water, the UK's largest privately-owned water utility company, have threatened strike action if it cuts 300 jobs through outsourcing.

Thames told GMB union members employed at a call centre in Swindon that unless they agree to family-unfriendly changes in working hours and shift times, and other measures, their jobs will be outsourced to India.

Thames reckons the job cuts are necessary due to the economic recession. The economic downturn however, doesn't appear to have stopped Thames from raising water charges 3% above inflation each year for the next five years. These increased charges have helped swell the company's half yearly profits to a massive 323 million.

Thames Water was acquired by Australian-based investment bank Macquarie in 2006 from the German company RWE for 8 billion.

Education cuts

THE SOCIALIST reported last week that the Higher Education Funding Council has cut the 18 million annual grant to London Metropolitan University and wants 38 million in 'overpayments' repaid, resulting in massive cuts.

Although the Met is the worst affected by this problem, the same thing is occurring elsewhere. After an audit took place at Kingston University it was revealed that the figure for students not completing courses was actually 8.6% instead of the 6.4% that had previously been claimed. This adjustment in the statistics will mean a loss of 500,000 for the university, an amount nowhere near the shocking financial readjustment to be faced by LMU, yet a loss all the same.

In the current economic climate it is obvious that further funding cuts and job losses are more than undesirable, the question is, as the government found billions of pounds to bail out its banking system, will the same rescue be provided to save one of London's pivotal educational institutions?

Nat Jones

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In The Socialist 11 February 2009:

Bankers' bonuses - daylight robbery!

Vendetta continues against socialist fighter

JCB owner - still shovelling in the cash


Construction workers

Lindsey oil refinery strike: Workers score important victory

Construction workers' battle to defend jobs and conditions

Welcome to the JIB!

Motherwell Bridge bosses declare war on striking workers

Stop GSK job cuts


Socialist Party youth and students

Defend youth services

College students - keen to fight back

Save Charlotte Turner school!


Socialist Party campaigns

Tyneside Metro: Workers' action to stop privatisation

Carbon trading crisis creates bonanza for polluting firms

Exeter: Mobilising to stop the far right

Fast news


Car workers

Fight for jobs at Ford

Car industry in crisis - national meeting


Socialist Party workplace news

Wirral cuts: We need a new party

Victory for Salford Unison

Defend jobs at Salford University

Usdaw presidential election

Protest against the Unison witch-hunt

Greenwich council: An injury to one is an injury to all


International socialist news and analysis

Nationalise Waterford Crystal!

United Socialist Party members remanded on trumped-up charges


Socialist Party review

Slumdog Millionaire


Football

Reclaim the game


 

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Related links:

Australia:

triangleAustralia: massive yes vote for marriage equality

triangleBook review: Spy drama gives insight into capitalist coup plot

triangleQueen reaches 90: abolish the monarchy

triangleCardiff East Socialist Party: Eyewitness report from Australia

Jobs:

triangleSupermarket's slash jobs - union fightback needed

triangleMerseyrail protest

triangleSouthampton Socialist Party: The collapse of Carillion

triangleCarillion and the construction industry

Fires:

triangle2m to remove Grenfell-type cladding: residents to get bill

triangleSouth Africa: burning anger

triangleCanada: fire devastates Fort McMurray

Water:

triangleCape Town drought

triangleMovement growing against fracking giant Ineos

University:

triangleLecturers strike around country in defence of pensions

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