Letters, Thursday, December 5, 2013

Have your say

Business is being put before staff

IN his letter, Get history right (Echo November 4), Alan Wright stated that I was mistaken when I referred to the Conservative-led Coalition as the Government of the zero-hour contract.

 He bases his assertion on the claim that recent figures have come to light showing that zero-hour contacts increased by 75 per cent between 2004 and 2009 under Labour and that since the Coalition took over, there has been no increase in the proportion of people on these contracts.

 Mr Wright does not reveal the origin of these figures, which is not surprising given that they do not exist.

 The Office of National Statistics Labour Force Survey shows that between 2006-2010, the number of people on zero-hour contracts fluctuated – in other words it went up and down from year to year.

 However, over that four-year period during which Labour was in power, it went up from 135,000 in 2006 to 140,000 in 2010 – five thousand rise over five years.

 Since 2010, however, when the Coalition Government assumed office, the number of people on zero-hour contracts has risen from 140,000 in 2010 to 210, 000 in 2012 – a 70,000 rise in two years.

 It is worth remembering that these figures are the official figures and that many unions believe that there could actually be more than five million people working on zero-hour contracts today.

 The Labour leader, Ed Miliband, has stated that he will address this problem when he is elected to office. Mr Miliband has also said he will offer incentives to employers to offer a living wage to their employees.

 A history lesson for you, Mr Wright – don’t forget it was Labour who introduced the minimum wage against opposition from the Conservatives.

 Mr Cameron is content to allow employers to exploit their workforce, indeed, he actively encourages them to do so. His benefit reforms and attempts to bring in regional pay – paying workers in areas of high unemployment less – are all part of a strategy aimed at forcing workers to take low paid jobs with minimal employment rights.

 The Government has only been in power three years but it has shown, time and time again, that it will support powerful business interests against the ordinary working man or woman.

R Scott

Is it a ‘super’ plan?

RECENT editions of the Echo reveal that Magistrates Square will cost £11.8million.

 The realignment of St Mary’s will cost £13.4million. Dr T in his column also revealed that these two projects have used up about one sixth of the Vaux site land.

 Can this expenditure be really accurate and true? Perhaps our council leader Paul Watson and Conservative party leader Councillor Robert Oliver, who are the main proponents of these wasteful developments, totalling £29.2m, may wish, under the Freedom of information confirm or deny the sums involved?

 The State of the City debate, will predictably raise these questions.

 People may notice that, for the first time in 41 years, construction work has started on one of the five phases of the Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor (SSTC) in order to disconnect the Vaux site and Stadium of Light area from the city’s main shopping centre.

 The council has no plans to build the Blue Route River Wear crossing to link the Vaux site with the SoL area with all of the planned new developments.

 If the SSTC was ever completed, would any HGV drivers and articulated lorries choose to use it?

 Such is the tortuous road plan linking the A19 via the city centre to their destination at Sunderland docks.

 I wonder what the city planners mean when they talk about a ‘super pedestrian crossing’ from Magistrates Square to the Vaux site?

 Will pedestrians compete on level crossings with the planned bus lane and the SSTC?

Ron McQuillan

An unjustified rise

WHAT a shame it is if Deputy Mayor, Coun Stuart Porthouse, finds himself having to dip into his own pocket should he fancy trying his luck with a few raffle tickets or is tempted to have a glass of wine or a pint of beer while representing the City of Sunderland at civic functions.

 Obviously, £3,827 doesn’t go very far these days and a near 50 per cent rise is, in Coun Porthouse’s carefully considered opinion, quite a reasonable increase in his mayoral spending money.

 According to council figures. he claimed more than £14,000 in allowances in the 2012-13 financial year.

 Do these people just not get it?

 It is outrageous in these times of austerity and supposedly enforced council cutbacks that the Labour-controlled cabinet should even consider this totally, unnecessary increase.

 Perhaps the voters in St Chad’s Ward will remember this when Coun Porthouse next offers himself for re-election.

Frank Johnson

Play the anthem

WASN’T it great years ago, when you went to the cinema and at the end of the film the audience applauded the film and then everyone stood for the National Anthem.

 It was a mark of respect to the Queen and to the stars of the silver screen.

 I truly think that we should bring back those ethics into modern society.

 I would also like to see Rule Britannia played when The Bridges closes. Folk might then remember what a great country this is, instead of all this negativity about the place.

Mick, The Pen, Brown

Move is a disgrace

ON November 28, The Echo, along with national newspapers, reported on npower’s decision to shift 1,400 jobs out of the North East to


 Again, another massive company showing nothing but contempt for the working people of this country.

 The Government has done nothing about the obscene energy price rises and, without a doubt, will not interfere with npower’s decision to move the 1,400 jobs to India.

 It’s another company, along with the Government, playing on the apathy of the people because they know we will sit back and take it.

 People think there’s nothing that can be done, but if everyone who has npower as their energy provider left for another provider, it would make the fat cats at npower and the Government sit up and take notice.

Ged Taylor,


Hip is on the mend

ON September 20, I fell at Concord Bus Station, Washington, which resulted in a broken hip.

 I would like to thank the people who assisted me and called for an ambulance. I am now making a good recovery.

 I would also like to thank Mr O’Brien and his dedicated team and the staff of Ward 48D, Sunderland Royal Hospital. Again my very grateful thanks to you all.

John Hudson,

West Boldon