Letters, Wednesday, July 1, 2015

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Fears for jobs in the North

During the General Election there was much talk from politicians of the creation of a Northern Powerhouse.

 Those who dwell twixt the Tees and Tyne could be forgiven for pointing out that our region, through King Coal, was the Northern Powerhouse historically.

 However, only cities like Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester and Bradford receive a mention, no nod to Middlesbrough or Newcastle.

 This is of great concern to the workforce and apprentices of OGN, a rig fabrication site straddling the historic North Eastern Marine works and the Wallsend slipway and Engineering works where the Mauritania’s engines were built.

 There are very few new orders for rig work, due to low oil prices, despite the UK Government offering generous tax concessions to companies who exploit the North Sea, and what work is available is not won on a level playing field.

 Far East competitors enjoy generous government subsidy and European oil companies favour their own domestic manufactures.

 OGN is the last substantial fabrication yard on the Tyne and recently had employed 2,000 direct and 5,000 in the supply chain.

 The yard’s greatest asset, however, is the 30 trade apprentices on a three-year training programme.

 These youngsters are the very people the North, and the nation, needs for future engineering and manufacturing if we are not to become an impoverished back water.

 We, the OGN workforce, are under no illusions that failure to win a share of the upcoming Callzean Project for Danish oil company Maersk will result in mothballing or worse of the Wallsend facility, and the welders, platers, pipefitters, riggers and support staff, whose fathers’ life hours welded on the ruler and made Tyneside great in peace and war, will be just another footnote in history.

Lee Campbell,

Ryhope

Women are real credit

Never in the history of man setting foot on our planet have women been so accepted as man’s equals as these times.

 Thoroughly deserving too, and it’s about time.

 One of the great steps forward to embrace their talents and abilities is the ladies’ football teams.

 The England women’s team are magnificent. It’s not only a treat to watch – the sportsmanship is the best I’ve seen ever. No diving, no vicious fouls – unity.

 The girls are a credit to our nation and to the world.

 The England Ladies are totally unselfish, passing the ball just like the very top men’s teams. There is a possibility they could win the World Cup, but we should be proud of them regardless for winning their way through to the knock-out stages for the first-time and for giving the men a lesson in clean, honest football.

Jimmy Chambers,

Washington