AS a follow-up to my recent letter which you kindly published (P&O ferries scandal has its roots in 1970s turn to neoliberalism, Apr 1), I should add that union protection for the casualised workforce in the college where I worked in the late 90s in the Blair era was negligible if present at all. We had to be employed for a minimum of 10 hours per week before we were eligible for union representation. But this was incomprehensible as it was, of course, the most vulnerable on less than 10 hours who were, by definition, most in need of support!

Similarly, you also were required to serve two years in one department before eligibility. But both of these were easily abused by management, if, for any reason, they did not want an employee to gain union representation. For instance, as an employee neared completion of his two-year period, he would be summarily changed to another department, requiring the whole process to begin again. Or his hours could be reduced, for no stated reason, to below the 10-hours threshold.

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In 1999, a year or so after Blair had allegedly signed the Social Chapter, I found myself in France doing research. I fell into conversation with an employer there who explained that, in France, it was incumbent on employers to pay an employee a minimum of 10 hours per week, irrespective of whether they were working those hours. It therefore made good sense to find work for him to fill out that time. Full unionisation was mandatory from the start, and universal. He was aghast when I explained the situation in Britain, and after a string of expletives reached the correct conclusion that, whatever Blair had signed up to, it was not the full Social Chapter as implemented by the rest of the member states.

I mention these things because I am certain that they will impinge on industrial relations in UK to this day, unless there has been a “nice” government in the intervening years, which has somehow escaped my attention.

Further, P&O would know these things, making the ground very fertile for doing what they did. They would also be well aware that they could not have got away with it in the EU countries, starting with France.

Brian York

WITH regards to the savage increase in fuel prices in Scotland, it is surely time for collective action against the energy companies who are fleecing the already under-pressure consumers in this energy-rich land.The more I think of the despoilation of our landscape these past 20 years to accommodate wind turbines, the more disconcerted I become. Were we not promised cheaper bills in return for these monstrosities?

Where is the joined-up energy policy for our energy-abundant country? Or have we handed over full control of our energy supplies, and by extension vast profits, to foreign countries and companies, to rich people who can place a wind turbine on their land, or the absent landowners who ask our tenant farmers to work the land and in return take the profits from the green energy produced and invest in their foreign lifestyles?

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Finally, given the vast number of properties available to the royal family, are they meeting all of these costs or are they being subsidised by the public purse yet again? Contrast their opulence with the abject fuel poverty being faced by an ever-increasing number of innocent but helpless families – a national disgrace. How our politicians of all parties have failed us since 2014, when the promise of self-determination was so close to being fulfilled!

Gus Connelly

I WILL donate £20 to a charity of the choice of the person who interprets the reply to Mr Lippok’s enquiry on Tuesday (Letters, Apr 5) ... no electricity supplier employees PLEASE.

James Ahern
East Kilbride

BARBARIC acts of cruelty in the Ukrainian war will ensure a dangerous legacy of ethnic hatred in eastern Europe for many years to come. Russian tanks have churned up the extensive wetland wilderness of Polesia, an area of vital biodiversity value. The long-term environmental impact will be widespread. Flattened cities, burnt-out cars, modern living ending in landfill will guarantee a pollution legacy for future generations.

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Climate change leading to world food and water shortages may well prove the driver of future global conflict. Many natural resources which we presently require are controlled and exploited by the mega-rich few. Without major adjustment to global wealth and human behaviour, the current lifestyle of developed nations is unsustainable. Unprecedented warming at both north and south poles tells us time is running out.

From tax havens to submarines, do not depend on bogus Tory “altruism” in Westminster to make the necessary changes in society. A forward-thinking Scotland is positive. Given the will of its people, legal action on gaining independence, social inequality and tacking the climate threat must top our political agenda.

Iain R Thomson