Sunday, March 30, 2008

Press release on the Terminal 5 fiasco

The chaotic scenes witnessed at the opening of Terminal 5 this week are directly attributable to the privatisation of both the British Airports Authority (BAA) and British Airways.

Across the political spectrum there is widespread agreement that BAA run airports, with their long queues, lack of seats and tacky, shopping mall atmosphere, are a national disgrace.

But the solution is not to break up BAA's monopoly and introduce 'more competition' as some have suggested. The answer is to take BAA back into public ownership, and for the company to be run as a not-for-profit enterprise.

Britain is the only country in Europe that has been foolish enough to privatise its major international airports. It is no coincidence that Manchester Airport, which has not been privatised, and which regularly comes out highest in surveys of customer satisfaction, was voted Britain’s Best Regional Airport in 2007.

We can't blame BAA for treating every square foot at Heathrow as a profit centre: it's owned by a public limited company which wants to maximise returns for its shareholders. But we can blame the politicians foolish enough to sell off BAA in the first place. Allowing other profit-hungry plcs to compete to run our airports would only mean more of the same.

British Airways’ whole ethos has changed since it was privatised.
The company has tried to cut corners wherever possible in order to reduce costs and boosts profits. BA has simply laid off too many staff-that’s why most of its check in desks are always closed, as was the case at Terminal 5 again this week. And staff training has been cut back too. It was reported that some staff for instance only received four day’s training on how to handle the new baggage handling system at Terminal 5.

Much of the chaos we saw at Terminal 5 this week was due to BAA and BA putting cost-cutting measures above serving the public.

As Will Hutton, economics editor of the Observer has noted:
Terminal 5's problems are more than teething troubles; they are symptomatic of deeper weaknesses in our private sector which, until we recast the way we do business, will continue to plague us.

It’s time to restore both BAA and BA to public ownership.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Press Release on Planned Privatisation of the Tote

The Campaign for Public Ownership opposes unequivocally the government’s plans to privatise the state-owned bookmaker, the Tote. For 80 years, the Tote has enjoyed a monopoly of horse-race pool betting in exchange for a guarantee that its profits are ploughed back into the sport. The arrangement has helped make British racing what it is today - a compelling, richly varied pageant which enhances the lives of millions of people. No one in racing is calling for The Tote to be privatised. On the contrary, most people in racing are appalled at the government’s plans. The Tote is no inefficient loss-making enterprise, on the contrary it is inherently profitable and, in its 80 years of existence, it has never taken a penny from the government in subsidy. The Tote should be kept in public ownership and be allowed to continue serving the public- and racing- in the way it has done so well since its formation 80years ago.

“The privatisation of the Tote demonstrates just how wedded to neoliberal dogma New Labour is. When a Labour government tries to sell off an institution that was set up by the Tory government of Stanley Baldwin - and which escaped even the attentions of the serial privatising Margaret Thatcher - you realise how far down the road to market fundamentalism we have travelled.”

Neil Clark, The Guardian.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Energy 'tax' on the poor

FROM THE TIMES, Thursday 6th March 2008

The big six energy companies are charging the poorest customers up to £330 a year more for gas and electricity, it emerged last night.
Tariffs for prepayment meters, used typically by pensioners and the less well-off, are up to 45 per cent higher than for internet customers. The industry watchdog branded the practice a £400 million rip-off.
The details came as the Government plans a crackdown on energy companies that take advantage of their poorer customers. Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, is ready to deliver an ultimatum to E.ON, npower, British Gas and other companies in his Budget next week.
The gap between the tariffs has grown after a round of inflation-beating price rises across the sector, despite Mr Darling urging companies to do more to help people on low incomes. The Chancellor will stop short of imposing a windfall tax on their £9 billion profits.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The average British family spends £42 a day on bills


By Lewis Carter
The average British family is having to spend £42 a day on bills, as the cost of living continues to increase.

Household bills have risen to £3,426 a year for the typical family, it is claimed, a figure that will rise again next month when council tax and water bills increase.
Added to the average mortgage, which costs almost £12,000 a year, it brings the annual bill to more than £15,000 - or £42 a day.
Data shows that mortgage costs have increased by an average of £600 from this time last year as a result of Bank of England rate rises and the impact of the credit crunch.
But it is the rising cost of utilities which is squeezing finances.