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From The Socialist newspaper, 5 March 2014

Them & Us

Cuts kill

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has accused Tory London Mayor Boris Johnson of 'having blood on his hands' following the death of a pensioner in Woolwich.

The FBU says the closure of the local fire station - part of the Mayor's cuts programme - meant that crews took longer to attend the emergency.

FBU regional secretary, Paul Embery, said the pensioner "while suffering from smoke inhalation, was still alive and semi-conscious when crews discovered him, so his chances of being saved would have increased dramatically had he been pulled from the fire two or three minutes earlier."

Fat Dons

While university teaching and support staff have seen their pay steadily eroded in recent years, prompting strike action over a measly 1% pay offer, university vice-chancellors have seen their bank accounts swell with massive pay hikes, making them the new fat cats in education.

VCs' salaries in the Russell Group of elite universities have risen on average by over 20,000 last year, to nearly 300,000.

After pension contributions, that figure rises to 318,500. The outgoing head of UCL, Malcolm Grant, could have filled a wheelbarrow with his 41,077 rise, bringing his pay and pensions pot up to 365,432.

Perhaps these rises are 'performance related'? Not if Southampton Uni VC Don Nutbeam's award is anything to go by.

According to the Guardian, Don "celebrated a 13% plunge in undergraduate recruitment with a 19,016 rise".

Health and wealth

The government's 20-30 billion of NHS 'efficiency savings', ie cuts, has led to chronic staff shortages.

The lack of permanent staff in hospitals has led Trust managers to use private agencies to supply the necessary workers to keep services running.

But these agencies are charging up to 1,000 for a doctor, nurse, etc, for a single shift. Needless to say it's not the health workers who are pocketing this money but the health arms of large private equity firms such as Capita and Blackstone.

Cash strapped hospital trusts, already crippled through PFI privatisation contracts, are therefore facing a double whammy by having to fork out even more cash to provide full services.

No defence

The Con-Dem funding cuts in flood defences has resulted in at least 1 billion of damage to homes, shops and infrastructure after the wettest winter in England for over 250 years.

Even the government's own advisers have warned that a 500 million underspend will mean 3 billion of avoidable damage.

Now, new research published in Nature Climate Change says the increasing frequency of extreme weather events due to global warming - and also socio-economic factors such as developers building on flood plains, etc, - will see the annual economic cost rise from around 4.3 billion a year across the European Union today to a staggering 23 billion a year by 2050 without better flood protection.

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
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  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 5 March 2014:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Pay us a living wage now!

Need for new mass workers' party is undeniable

Government condemns millions to housing misery

NHS in crisis: Stop Hunt's hospital closure plans

Fight the government's vicious sanctions regime

Them & Us

International socialist news and analysis

Ukraine crisis: Ruling elites foster division and conflict

Northern Ireland rocked by 'on the runs' crisis

International Women's Day

The miners' strike changed women's lives

Socialist Party workplace news

Determined Doncaster care workers in 7-day strike

Wales: Unison branch challenges Labour with no-cuts budget

Support strike action against legal aid cuts

Leeds council workers discuss cuts fightback

Train drivers vote for action at Northern Rail

Cleaners strike at London college

Readers' comments and reviews

Nigeria's battle for a mass workers' party

Letter of protest to the BBC

Union question time - Labour has no answers

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Action against vicious council cuts

Police spying ends lives - end it!

Fighting youth low pay (and security bullies)

Calderdale and Huddersfield: People ready to defend A&Es

Barton Moss protesters say no to fracking

Oppose the EDL in Worcester


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