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AltAusterity Digest #61 August 16-22, 2018

This week in Austerity News:

Aug 24, 2018

A day after the collapse of Genoa’s Ponte Morandi bridge, a civil engineer has told la Republica that three hundred other bridges and tunnels in Italy are in a similar state of disrepair. The bridge collapse killed thirty-nine people last Tuesday, adding to a host of infrastructure-related deaths in Italy over the past few years that have included seven major road bridge collapses, a derailed train, and a head-on collision between two trains in 2016. While Italy continues to struggle to recover from the crisis, the intersection of privatization, corruption and declining public investment, are having deadly consequences.

A Reuters article follows 81-year-old retired factory worker Yorgos Vagelakos on his struggles with Greek austerity. While Greece has officially declared the end of its bailout, the country still owes billions to creditors who will continue to regularly review the country’s fiscal health. Despite its official exit, pensioners are unlikely to see a recovery from the cuts they have faced any time soon. Over eight years, policy makers and creditors overseeing the austerity agenda in Greece took particular aim at the pension system with more than a dozen rounds of cuts. Vagelakos has seen his total income, including pension and benefits, reduced from 1,250 euros in 2012, to 685 euros today.

The hospital division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) has reported that despite the Conservative’s promises to the contrary, the proposed cuts of $22 billion will mean deep cuts to healthcare. The Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHUS) reports that in Hamilton alone, 201 hospital beds and more than 1,140 staff will be cut. Pointing to the fact that Ontario is already funded and staffed far below other provinces, OCHUS president Michael Hurley said that the problem of hallway medicine is only going to get worse, and that hospitals need to be funded properly in order to address the costs of long-term care.

The New Statesman’s Crumbling Britain series looks at the combination of austerity and privatization in Britain. In March 2011, HMP Birmingham became the first privatized prison in Britain. On August 20th, the Ministry of Justice took emergency control of the prison after the chief inspector described its state as including “endemic violence, chronic drug use and corridors strewn with cockroaches, blood and vomit.” While the prison system has seen cuts of more than 30% since 2010, it is also struggling to house a near-record population of 82,949 in England and Wales. The prison crisis is one of many failures of austerity and privatization in Britain. A shortlist also includes the collapse of Carillion, rail privatization and re-nationalization, and Council insolvency.

That's it for this week's Digest! Check back next Friday morning for another edition, or subscribe to our newsletter for a weekly roundup. We'll also Tweet each time we add new content, so you can keep up with our work @AltAusterity and join the #altausterity conversation!