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Protesters tackle Metro privatisation
To chants of 'Robbing Fat Cats' a hundred privateers were met by around 50 trade unionists and community activists who oppose privatisation plans for the Newcastle Metro. The privateers had been invited along by Nexus (the public-sector operator of the Metro) to an event to look at proposals to break up the public service.
Despite the pouring rain, and that the protest was on a weekday (when many of those involved in the campaign to Keep the Metro Public were at work), the message was loud and clear that these fat cats will have a battle on their hands if they attempt to go ahead with privatisation plans.
Allegedly, one of the first questions asked inside the privateers' meeting was, "what are your relations with the trade unions like, bearing in mind what we have just witnessed on entering the building"? However, it seems that there was no coherent answer.
The mood of the protesters was that privateers cannot be trusted with running the Metro. Stan Herschel, rail union RMT regional organiser, told us: "We're here to let fat cats from the city know they are not welcome.
"We believe the Metro is a great public asset and should remain so. We believe every penny of taxpayers' money should be ploughed back into the system and not used for shareholders' pockets."
Sally Young, chair of the Keep the Metro Public campaign, was extremely pleased with the turnout at the protest: "Students and workers have come along in appalling weather to get their voices heard." She explained that the process of privatisation is "long and complex", which will give us time to make people in the region aware of what is going on.
Big business is licking its lips at the thought of the profits which can be creamed off by these privatisation proposals. However, Metro staff and workers who use the Metro are appalled at these plans. After all, look at the spate of accidents after the privatisation of the railway network. There are also fears that fares will escalate and wages and conditions be pushed back.
In The Socialist 17 September 2008:
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party campaigns
Labour Party conference protest
Privatisation and closure
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party review