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27 June 2012

Them & Us

Olympic bonuses...

The Financial Times expressed outrage at its calculation that transport workers in London could receive a cumulative 35 million in bonuses for working during the Olympics. But they conveniently failed to mention some other bonuses related to the Games - for example Jeremy Beeton, director general of the Government Olympic Executive, received 187,500. That's a bit of a difference from the bus workers who only want 500 each!

...and curfews

The real impact of the Olympics for those living in east London is becoming clear. Police in Waltham Forest have been granted extra powers to break up 'gatherings' of two or more people. Apparently this will only apply to those 'suspected' of 'anti-social' behaviour - who will then be banned from the area for 24 hours!

And if you're under 16 and out after 9pm, they don't even need the pretence that you might be doing something wrong. This is an attack on our democratic rights. Youth Fight for Jobs has called a protest at Leytonstone police station, Kirkdale Road, Leytonstone at 6pm, Friday 29 June.

A4e pseudo-science

You may remember A4e from such scandals as the 200-a-head nights out on the company credit card, the chief executive paying herself 8.6 million and of course the 200 million government contracts for 'getting people back to work'. Now the company is branching out and providing neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) to "change mindsets" of the unemployed so that they're more focused on getting a job. NLP is widely discredited by scientists. That doesn't surprise us, it doesn't seem very scientific to suggest that 'motivational techniques' can solve the problem of there being seven jobseekers for every one vacancy.

Affordable housing?

As reported opposite, in this spending review period the government is only spending 4.5 billion on affordable housing. But even that figure is a massive over-estimate. Much of this money goes to housing associations - such as the 20 million given to the One Housing Group last year - and what they count as 'affordable' might differ a bit from your own view.

One Housing Group has built a block of flats in Islington with each being sold for up to 705,000! To qualify for the part buy scheme, you have to earn 59,000 - the average wage in London is 33,850. So how much of this pitiful spending on affordable housing goes to housing that is actually affordable?

Rail fare hike

The government has announced rail fare increases of 3% above inflation - meaning at least a 6% (and up to 11%) increase on train travel costs next year. With wages for many either frozen or cut and travel costing as much as rent for some who have to commute to work, this could be the straw that breaks the camel's back. Apparently even the train companies think it's too much! A leaked document shows them discussing publicly opposing such an increase - somehow we doubt this philanthropic side will stretch to limiting the increase and taking a knock on their profits.

All in it together

Jobs are being slashed and services closed around the world - all a result of the banking collapse of 2008/9. We all have to take a hit to make up for mistakes of the bankers and speculators. Or so we're told. Despite the fact that many banks are suffering plummeting shares and mass job cuts for lower paid workers, top bankers have seen their pay rise 12% in a year - to an average of $12.8 million. Five directors at Nationwide are now paid more than 1 million. Graham Beale, the chief executive, gets 2.25 million - about 80 times the average wage of a Nationwide worker!

A small dip in bonuses - to satisfy those pesky shareholders - has been more than made up for by an increase in salary. So, we are all in this together...unless you're a banker.

Cameron talked of a "culture of entitlement" and of the privileges gained from the welfare system. But who's privileged?

18 out of 23 cabinet ministers are millionaires

65,738 - annual wages for an MP

4.5 million - cost to the public purse of ministerial salaries (on top of their MPs' wages)

Cameron has repeatedly been rumoured to possess between 10 and 30 million

1.5 million - cost of the Camerons' home in South Kensington