THE response by Triage to our occupation of their Dundee office cannot be left unchallenged (Welfare-to-work offices occupied by campaigners, The National, July 18).

Triage is a major subcontractor operating the DWP’s Work Programme in Scotland and the north of England. When this programme was introduced, the numbers of people on it that went on to find work were less than had been expected with no intervention at all.

Figures for people going into work are now a bit higher, but so is the official employment rate, and there is no record of whether people found work themselves or through the programme. The Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations describes the system as “exploitative” and “punitive” – “a broken system which is failing to get people into work”. Dundee has the worst Work Programme statistics in the UK.

In saying that they do not have “the gift” to stop benefits, Triage are being deliberately misleading. They don’t apply sanctions themselves, but sanctions are based on their recommendations. Instructions to Work Programme providers explicitly state that: “You are expected to facilitate the Sanctions process by engaging promptly with Jobcentre Plus Decision Makers when participants have not complied with mandatory activity.” A former Triage employee has informed us that they were “told to sanction first and ask questions later”.

When we wrote a report on experiences of sanctions in Dundee last year we found at least 16 people who had been sanctioned through Triage, mainly for missed appointments that they had never been informed about. The PCS claims that you are many times more likely to be sanctioned on the Work Programme than to find a sustained job.

Our action has helped to lift the lid on how companies like Triage profit from the privatised punishment of the unemployed. With such a success rate and customer feedback, most private companies would be out of business, but the UK Government continues to pay Triage public money to exploit and punish people who have been already failed by society.

Sarah Glynn
For the Scottish Unemployed Workers’ Network

REMEMBER those late nights watching the Scotland Bill (those nights where you lost the will to live)? I was then near the end of S2, and had school the next day, and yet I stayed up late watching amendment after amendment be voted down by Labour and Tory

MPs who couldn’t even be bothered to sit down and listen to what we had to say.

Well, the Tories, who have a grand total of one Scottish MP, just voted on laws affecting Scotland. Matters which have little effect on England. Matters which the majority of Scotland voted for not only in the General Election but also the referendum. This essentially turned into English votes for Scottish laws. It was another classic example of Scotland being controlled by a government that we didn’t vote for (bar the almighty David Mundell and his convincing 300 majority).

Perhaps if the Conservatives had let the Scottish votes have a significance on the Scottish laws, David Cameron may have never had to cancel to debates to avoid the embarrassment of losing.

In Westminster, one Tory with a 300 majority defeats 56 Nationalists with majorities in the tens of thousands, or at the very least the thousands.

If something does not change, the Union may not have long to live.

Andrew Ross (13)

THE arrogance of Prime Minister Cameron in wanting to take the UK into further military action in Syria knows no bounds (The road to war, The National, July 20).

We now know that UK military personnel have already been involved in conducting air strikes in US-led bombing missions, without the approval of Parliament. Yet just two days after this he is determined to push for further action without first providing answers to our current involvement.

The House of Commons rejected bombing in Syria two years ago and the case for undertaking this has simply not been made. The involvement of British service personnel in bombing without the approval of Parliament therefore clearly flouts the democratic decision taken by the House.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon led a Commons debate on Syria only this month – before which he briefed the media about the likelihood of the UK bombing in Syria in the future – yet he didn’t say a word about UK military personnel already sent into action.

The Government’s policy in this matter is entirely unacceptable – effectively overseeing a bombing campaign by stealth.

Alex Orr

IT is disappointing to read Carolyn Leckie’s opinion piece regarding rewilding the highlands (Shooting estates of the rich belong to the wolf, The National, July 20). For a Central Belt politician to be making such suggestions is worrying. I would point to Rob Gibson’s recent work towards redefining “wild” land in the highlands as “Clearances country”.

I understand Leckie’s concerns about access to land being increasingly difficult due to it being a rich man’s playground, but access to land is going to be even more difficult if we fence off areas for some kind of fake wilderness.

If Carolyn wants a reintroduction of the wolf, why does she not call for a rewilding of East Kilbride and the surrounding countryside so she can enjoy them in her back yard!

Calum Fash Stewart

WHAT an astonishing letter from Martin Redfern (Letters, July 20). He complains that a “Scottish” BBC would concentrate its political coverage on Holyrood rather than Westminster.

Is that not what it would be supposed to do; what most of us would want it to do, rather than for us to have to listen to the so-called national nNews in which virtually all parliamentary coverage of domestic issues is of England-only matters at Westminster, with even these usually being mistakenly reported as if they related to the whole of the UK?

When did he last hear Scottish Government policy on education, the NHS, policing etc covered in these bulletins? Yes, I know we get these covered by BBC Scotland in our own news bulletins but for them to be treated as less important in a UK context than their English equivalents is a disgrace and something we should not put up with.

More power to the Scottish Government’s effort to bring control of the BBC, and of broadcasting in general in Scotland, to Scotland.

Alasdair MacKenzie

MARTIN Redfern, under the guise of supporting “free speech”, makes a typical Unionist attack on Nicola Sturgeon/SNP for wishing to see broadcasting powers devolved to Holyrood.

Under Holyrood control the BBC would become “parochial and inward-looking”, he splutters. Has he ever watched BBC Scotland news?

James Mills

REGARDING Mr Sutherland’s letter about Greece (Letters, July 20): do you really think the normal Greek people ever saw a single cent from the billions of euro spent on Greece? No, my friend. Probably 85 per cent went directly from the source into the accounts of the Greek Government in foreign banks in Switzerland, Germany, London, the Channel Islands, Luxemburg and various other tax-haven countries all over the world.

This money then went to bribe the Greek oligarchy to continue to down-press Greek population with a lot of democratic rights but with no power over their main parties. They invested a bit in Greece: to buy islands, luxury yachts, repair their own palaces, build not necessary motorways and keep the rest poor.

And to be sure: the world lives not from GDP, rations and other statistical nonsense. The world needs friendship, generosity, helpfulness and, most of all, honesty.

Bruno Baumgärtner
Isle of Arran