Letters, Friday, October 14th, 2011

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Workers strike only as last resort

I WAS incensed by the letter “Striking teachers” on October 8.

Workers and their representatives, usually trade unions, never take any form of industrial action/strike lightly. For any worker to stop work in protest due to a dispute is a costly decision as workers aren’t paid when on strike and risk losing their current conditions during such unfortunate conflicts at work.

Workers only take industrial action to defend conditions, pay and pensions they have earned and are accustomed to.

Teachers in this country do a brilliant job, which is reflected in the constant improvement in the grades our children get, and we should be grateful for the great work they do. They don’t want to send kids home or lose pay. Teachers are responsible people and most teachers have kids too.

All workers have a legal right to defend the standards of their working conditions, pay and pensions. To criticise a respected profession or any workers for taking lawful industrial action without knowing all the facts is unfair, and any opinions shouldn’t be based solely on our media.

We should all be aware by now that large areas of the media are influenced by the mega-rich who love to pay the real workers peanuts to keep their profits mega-healthy.

Any industrial action only occurs after civilised discussions. Any industrial action is the result of a democratic legal ballot and then a lawful process is followed before any work is disrupted.

All any workers anywhere want is a decent living wage and conditions that fairly reflect the work they do.

What should also be a guarantee is that all people should be able to retire at a reasonable age, hopefully in good health and not have to worry about having enough money to pay fuel bills or buy food.

No one should have to work until they drop. A happy retirement should not only be a luxury for the rich. Everyone has earned the pension they agreed to save and invest in over their working lives.

I hope the decent working people of our country will defend their pension if this Con-Dem government still refuses to be reasonable on pensions issues.

People never welcome conflict, but sometimes conflict is our only choice at being heard and treated fairly.

Lawful strikes are always a last resort for workers to try to achieve this.

Gordon Chalk, Millfield

Will Aid month

NOVEMBER brings Bonfire Night and Will Aid 2011.

Will Aid is an association of nine national charities helping people in the UK and around the world. By making their will with us in November, Echo readers will ensure that their loved ones are properly provided for as well as improving the lives of countless people in need.

During November we will make wills free of charge in return for a suggested donation of £75 for a single will or £110 for mirror wills (e.g. husband and wife) to Will Aid.

This year we are supporting St Benedict’s Hospice’s “Make a Will Month” , a free will scheme also running during November. We will make wills for free in return for a suggested donation, through us, to St Benedict’s. Again, that will be £75 for a single will or £100 for mirror wills.

Dermot Kirkwood, Longden, Walker & Renney Solicitors, 14 John Street, Sunderland Tel. 566 6500

EU membership

MANY years ago I had a chance to vote on this country’s referendum to join the Common Market, as did many other people.

Newpapers at the time were full of economists giving their opinion and reasons for and against the Common Market.

After reading both sides of the argument, I chose the latter. I was against European integration. When the Common Market had surplus commodities we would have benefit advantage over proceeds.

As it was, the MPs and Tories took us into the Common Market and Russia was the receiver of all the surplus commodities. Now they say that David Cameron has made a cast-iron pledge for the British people to have a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty and if we are not part of the solution are we just part of the precipitate?

Now, if no one is listening, there is no substitute for genuine lack of preparation.

Ken Malkin, Heathway, Parkside, Seaham

Question of sport

AS a 79-year-old inactive but interested observer, could someone please explain to me how “shuttlecock and battledore”, which sounds like a firm of solicitors, is, to my surprise, now known as badminton?

A. Pollit, Mere Knolls Road,Sunderland

Treasured reply

I’D like to say thank you to D. Brookes for replying to my letter (Letters, October 5). I will cut it out and treasure it for the rest of my days.

I’ve never had anyone say I’m part of the “left-wing intelligentsia” before. Does it mean I’m now on a par with Professor Noam Chomsky? I hope so. D also says I’m a “bleeding-hearted numptie”. I don’t know what “numptie” means but what a great word it is, so I’m happy to be one.

My only disappointment is that D didn’t say my letter was “politically correct madness”. I must try harder, I suppose!

I’m puzzled though, D. You ask what about the human rights of victims of crime? I don’t remember saying anyone, including victims of crime, should be excluded from having human rights. Remember, it’s I who believes in human rights.

As to the rulers of North Korea, China etc, I don’t think there’s much in the way of human rights in those places. Why would I fantasise about their “communist utopias”, when I believe they are state capitalist fascist brutes?

I would suggest that it’s self-evident that multiculturalism exists. Is that always packed Chinese buffet restaurant in Holmeside just a figment of my imagination? Have you never heard of Massive Attack, Aswad, The Specials or even The Beatles, who were heavily influenced by Indian mysticism in their latter days as a band? What culture is it that you believe is being eroded? What is so wrong with absorbing influences from all corners of the globe?

Finally, I don’t care about the EU at all. I don’t want to be ruled over by any capitalists be they European, British, American, Chinese or Middle Eastern. I’m a human being who treats all others in the human family with equal respect unless they are governments, because it’s my belief that all governments are corrupt, only working in the interests of the well off at the expense of the less fortunate.

Tom O’Brien, Pennywell

Stop the bullies

AFTER attending the State of the City meeting on September 14, I must write and comment on what I think is one of the most sickening issues brought up by a brave young man.

This is special needs and vulnerable people in this society. This subject came up as a young man had the guts to take the mike and voice to the panel (police) how he have been abused in his local area while going about his business. My heart went out to him. Needless to say, it fell on deaf ears.

This young man and his supporters left soon afterwards. Then a pensioner took the mike to ask why a vulnerable young man could not go to his local for a quiet drink without being ridiculed and made fun of. This was dealt with in the same manner as the first. (The young man wanted to know why when the police were called they did not turn up).

I was very angry and, to my shame, I didn’t have the guts to speak up. Maybe it would have been dealt with in the same manner as the previous questions.

My grandson, that very day, had not gone to school because the previous day he had been threatened with violence and pushed across a classroom, narrowly missing furniture and injury (he has a balance problem).

He is used to this. He has been bullied all his life. How he survived this and turned out such an incredible person, I will never know.

Bullies need to be robustly punished and shown that if they continue in this despicable, cowardly way to the vulnerable in society, that there is a price to pay and it must be a heavy one.

We need laws for the most vulnerable like they have laws for racism. It’s about time this government and council did something about this now.

Name and address supplied

Great actress

VERA Day is a wonderful British actress from the 50s and 60s with great films including Dance Little Lady, The Crowded Day, A Kid for Two Farthings, Clean Sweep, Quatermass 2, Hell Drivers, A Stitch in Time, The Prince and The Showgirl, and Saturday Night Out.

She mixed with stars such as Sidney James, Liz Fraser, Tommy Cooper, William Hartnell, Roger Moore, Diana Dors and Norman Wisdom.

I won’t forget the wonderful British actress icon Vera Day.

Terry Christie, Woodside Terrace, East Herrington, Sunderland