I NOTE The National’s story “Fewer on ‘toxic’ zero-hours contracts” (January 5). That’s good. What you do not mention is the hidden zero-hours contracts, known by many names including “guaranteed hours” contracts. These are zero-hours contracts in all but name and are widely used in several sectors.

For example, a person may be regularly working 20 hours a week, but their contract states that they are guaranteed 20 hours a year.

They have no holiday pay, no sick pay, no budget for training, no job security and, effectively, no rights: they know that if they rock the boat they can be, effectively, sacked – since nobody can live on 20 hours a year. They are often working with people doing exactly the same job but on a permanent contract.

There’s no difference in their qualifications, their capacity for the job, the job itself.

It is simply a two-tier system based on the luck of the draw. There is usually some small print saying that the contract should be reviewed on a regular basis, and if an employee regularly works more than a certain number of hours a year the contract type should be reconsidered, but experience suggests that this does not often happen.

I cannot see how this two-tier system is allowed to continue in a country that allegedly protects workers’ rights.

Name and address supplied

SO, a referee who it is alleged shows favour to one side of the Old Firm now has to be escorted to a football match. Celtic officials complain, just like Rangers officials complained following the previous Old Firm match and what do we have? Rangers are fined £6,000.00 and Celtic, to date, find that it is acceptable to complain but somehow do not receive a fine.

Where is the impartiality in the management of the game by the SFA? Referees are STILL deciding what rules of football to apply and what not to apply. This is unacceptable! The rules are there to be applied, not interpreted, often by someone who has no experience of playing at the top level of the game either in Scotland or any other country.

The game is falling into disrepute by the SFA’s failure to act on sub-standard refereeing. Bring in referees from other countries and let them decide the rules, and send the Scottish referees to whatever country they come from.

All this needs to happen until VAR is introduced into Scottish football and we can sit down and watch a match without referee bias, or the fear of a referee not being able to go about his daily personal life. Free of threat from the morons involved in the game, be they supporters, players, match officials, club officials or SFA officials, because we have morons in all these sections of the Scottish game.

Jim Todd
via email

D TURNBULL (Letters, January 5) ignores many of the costs of cars. The apparent convenience of cars is hard to argue against but the increasing number of cars brings increasing congestion, parking difficulties and pollution – what is their true cost?

Paris has recently had days with free public transport in an urgent response to pollution, and Germany is considering free public transport in cities. There is also the alienation of other users from public roads and spaces. One of the reasons for reduced main street shopping and reduction in community is cars making the experience less enjoyable. Many residential streets are effectively car parks offering little attraction to walking around, and children playing safely is not possible.

What consideration is given for those who can’t afford cars? With few exceptions, cycling in the UK is only for the brave. Public transport certainly must be more co-ordinated and reliable. In the longer term, planning should ensure more is available in local communities so people are not so car-dependent.

Jim Stamper

THE Sunday National (January 6) had a two-page article on pollution which quoted the carbon dioxide emissions of some companies. It may be undesirable to increase the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere but it is a willful misuse of the language to describe it as pollution. Carbon dioxide is a normal constituent of the atmosphere like oxygen, nitrogen, water vapour and argon, and emission of any of these gases is not pollution.

Dr P M Dryburgh

I was surprised and disappointed by Gordon Macintyre-Kemp’s article in Thursday’s edition (Hot new economic theory is just one piece of the puzzle, January 3). I usually read his column with interest and have come to expect thoughtful and well-considered content, but on this occasion I found myself wondering what he was trying to do.

May I suggest that someone like Richard Murphy (author of The Joy of Tax) or Timothy Rideout (another member of Business for Scotland) be invited to contribute an article to The National on the implications for the an independent Scotland’s currency of Modern Monetary Theory? Such an article would, one hopes, clear up the confusion created (whether through ignorance or, as I fear, by design) by Mr Macintyre-Kemp’s article.

Roger Colkett
via email