Public infrastructure is crumbling. On the railways, for instance, it’s not strikes which are the problem for passengers. It’s years of neglect, zero investment and systematic job cuts, while the private train operators (still!) maximise their profits!
And these profits have been protected, thanks to the ongoing management fee contract with train operators which has been in place since Covid. The RMT has exposed how operators made £600m last year, and how, since 2010, their shareholders have received nearly £5bn in dividend payouts!
When it comes to the National Health Service, of course, its collapse is public knowledge. The 18-hour waits in A&E, the lack of beds and the absence of a GP “service”. And worst of all, the shortage of 130,000 workers, due mostly to Brexit.
The government says it’s putting in a few billion extra investment, but former Brexit Minister, now Health Secretary, Steve Barclay, is refusing to increase NHS staff pay, claiming there’s no money - at least not for them...
Yet there’s money for the profit sector: over 6% of spending on NHS treatment ends up in the hands of private contractors, and that alone is worth more than £1bn a year: a figure that’s steadily rising!
And while profits rise, things fall apart. So too on the railways. New figures from the Office of Rail and Road show that the number of cancelled train services has more than doubled since 2015. In 2022, 1 in 26 of all trains were cancelled. This is equivalent to 860 trains a day across the country! Most of these cancellations – up to 76% on Avanti West Coast (the worst train company for cancellations) – were because of train faults. In other words maintenance not done. And why? Because maintenance jobs are cut and outsourced!
In the North of England, rail infrastructure is Victorian. The Mayor of North of Tyne explained that when northern mayors tried to attend a meeting with the Transport Secretary to discuss train cancellations, they couldn’t get there, because their train was cancelled...
Analogue signalling, over 50 years old, remains on parts of northern railways and there are average speeds of just 35mph on some lines. And yet Network Rail, responsible for renewing track and signals wants more cuts to its workforce as a precondition for discussing pay with the unions!
There is an answer to this. Only one answer, in fact. Remove profit entirely from the equation and place all public services back into public hands under workers’ control. It’s that simple.