AS THE bombing in the Balkans continues, the government likes to pretend that we are all one "united nation". But there is evidence every day of just how class divided Britain remains.
WHILE OFFICIAL figures show that Britain has avoided a recession, over 50,000 jobs went in the first four months of this year-the worst rate for six years. Bosses say they intend to get rid of another 38,000 jobs in the next few months.
Will Hutton, the managing editor of the Observer, wrote last weekend, "British manufacturers are giving up the fight. They are locked in a vicious recession, but nobody cares. Britain's balance of trade in the export and import of goods is moving into a staggering deficit. This year it promises to be £27 billion."
The bosses' CBI survey of industrial trends also shows that manufacturing companies cut their spending plans on new products and processes to the lowest level on record.
DAVID Webster, economist to the House of Lords select committee on the Bank of England, reported last week that a study of 39 coal mining districts showed that, despite migration and unemployed workers travelling long distances to find work, three fifths of the unemployed stay unemployed. There are simply no jobs to apply for and the New Deal has done nothing to provide real work.
SOME COMPANIES are using the £3 an hour minimum wage for under 21s as a maximum. Others have used the new laws to slash pay rates. Forte Hotels, Pizza Hut, Russell & Bromley, Stead & Simpson and Oliver Timpson stand accused of paying new entrants at the minimum wage level rather than a higher rate they used to pay.
THE FOURTH Trident missile submarine arrived on the Clyde last week. It was met by protesters who swam to within 100 yards of the 16,000 ton killing machine. The government will spend £1.5 billion a year on the upkeep of the Trident fleet.
THE LABOUR government's "reform" of legal aid will mean more injustice and restrict full legal services to the rich. The Law Society has launched a major campaign to highlight that the changes will stop legal aid for many personal injury cases, cap the legal aid budget and widen the gap between clients who are on legal aid and those who pay privately for services.
The government's aim is to cut costs. The Law Society says that "the old, the young, disabled people and workers who are injured at work will all suffer under the government's proposals." Most personal injury cases will now only be taken on by lawyers working on a "no win, no fee" basis. This means "difficult" cases could be dropped.
IS THERE any possible connection between the following facts? 1. The Independent Television Commission has announced it is revoking the licence of Med TV, the Kurdish satellite station. 2. The chairman of the ITC is Sir Robin Biggam. 3. Biggam is also a director of British Aerospace. 4. BAe is about to start up licensed production of its assault rifles and grenade launchers in Turkey. 5. The Turkish government will use these weapons to continue its dirty war against the country's Kurdish population, whose cause Med TV publicised.
THE HEALTH and Safety Executive failed to act over warnings of potentially lethal safety breaches at a Shoreham dockyard, where an untrained casual worker was killed last year. The revelations add to the growing scandal surrounding the death of student Simon Jones, crushed to death while unloading a ship at Shoreham last year. Simon was killed working for the Euromin firm. It has now emerged that senior Euromin staff were so worried over their own firm's cavalier attitude to safety that they had approached the Health and Safety Executive.
Keith Warburton, a former sales and marketing manager, says that in 1995 he warned that HSE that unless action was taken over Euromin it would "only be a matter of time before someone was killed". Euromin's former shipping agent, Valerie Stringer, also warned the HSE over "inadequate manning and safety" and "inexperienced labour".
Such warnings went unheeded and the HSE did not even inspect Euromin between July 1995 and Simon Jones's death last year. And despite the growing evidence of the Euromin safety scandal the Crown Prosecution Service still refuses to prosecute the firm over Simon's death.