Readers' Letters: UK strikers are not greedy, they’re desperate

I am astonished that Derek Farmer thinks that the current wave of strikes could have been prevented had public sector workers made different “lifestyle decisions” or saved enough for the proverbial “rainy day” (Letters, 2 February).
Public sector union members took part in strike action across the UK on Wednesday, February 1 (Picture: Carl Court/Getty Images)Public sector union members took part in strike action across the UK on Wednesday, February 1 (Picture: Carl Court/Getty Images)
Public sector union members took part in strike action across the UK on Wednesday, February 1 (Picture: Carl Court/Getty Images)

Firstly, let's debunk the implication that those working in public services strike because in some way they expect to he “bailed out”. Contrary to popular belief wages in the public sector have stagnated for the last decade and more.

Private sector employees may not have felt the squeeze as much, though their bosses, along with Westminster MPs, have more than profited (salaries having gone up up from £60k to £80k plus expenses) following Gordon Brown's 2008 bank bailout. The sales of yachts, luxury items and expensive properties have grown by leaps and bounds and the 1 per cent have become wealthier and wealthier.

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Contrast this with the ridiculous increase in energy prices, both for heating and petrol, along with that of rents and food.

It is not selfish to go on strike when you are no longer able to cope due to staff shortages (thank you Brexit), rundown facilities and the painful struggle to keep anything like acceptable services going. A lot of people take jobs in the public sector because they genuinely believe in public service, and while they know they won't get rich, doing a job interacting with and/or supporting the public along with a decent pension, is what motivates them.

But when the cost of public transport, childcare, rent or mortgage and food cannot be met out of salaries of around £30,000, what are people meant to do?

The Royal College of Nursing, which used to have Rule 12, a “no strike” rule, have come out for the first time ever. Sorry Mr Farmer, clapping is not enough.

Marjorie Ellis Thompson, Edinburgh

Teen titans?

Despite our parliament finding even identifying a woman problematic, it's rare to encounter anything quite as ludicrous as the suggestion candidacy rights be extended to 16 year-olds. Scotland's parliament desperately needs candidates with a better ability to understand the implications of policy than we have now. That requires maturity and experience, which children cannot offer.

Hamish Hossick, Broughty Ferry, Dundee

Just managing

Following one of the most embarrassing weeks for Aberdeen FC, after which they sacked their manager Jim Goodwin, Dwight Yorke has put his hat into the ring with a possible endorsement from Sir Alex Ferguson to get him into the interview seat. Aberdeen FC are in dire straits, and they need an experienced manager to understand their problems and give the team confidence to win matches.

Football management is a short-term occupation, as managers have to accept a hire and fire situation unless they can win games and silverware, and they must retain the trust of the dressing room, and the fans.

Neil Lennon, Jack Ross and Paul Lambert are the early front runners, but any manager with suitable experience may be less than willing to take on such a challenging role.

James Macintyre, Linlithgow

Wrong on rollout

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Unsurprisingly, Boris Johnson is quite wrong to claim that Brexit enabled the UK to license the Covid-19 vaccines faster than any other country and that it “gave us a crucial edge” (your report, 1 February).Under European law, the UK was permitted to act independently to approve the vaccine in an emergency. From 2012, the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) was free, under regulation 174 of the Human Medicine Regulations 2012, to give temporary approval to an unlicensed medicinal product in the case of certain types of public health threat, such as a pandemic.The Government admitted this: when the MHRA approved the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for use in the UK on 2 December 2020, the Government press release accompanying this announcement made clear that approval was given under regulation 174. Brexit made no difference; we always had control of the MHRA.

Steuart Campbell, Edinburgh

Fanatical focus

Nicola Sturgeon is perhaps pleased to see all the debate triggered by her derogatory comments aimed at those with concerns about gender recognition reforms, not least because it has led to her insults being repeated time and again (“ ‘Obviously the case’ some gender reform critics are bigots, says Nicola Sturgeon”, Scotsman, 31 January).

The First Minister refused to be more specific about who she was referring to beyond grudgingly conceding it was not “even a majority” of those who disagree with her. So up to 49 per cent then of those who have the temerity to question the detail of this very sensitive legislation. She even had the gall to claim that her words were not intended to be “inflammatory” when it is difficult to imagine what else they were meant for.And whatever was Ms Sturgeon talking about when she said that those she criticised were also “possibly” racist? Was that just another throwaway slur? Or perhaps, a reflection of the twisted nationalist logic by which anyone who doesn’t agree with this SNP government’s proposals is somehow viewed as being against Scots as a whole and so can be defined as “racist”?

The only positive to be taken from the First Minister’s latest irresponsible rant is that it perhaps signals she has given up on trying to win over the reasonable middle ground of the electorate, preferring instead to focus on those whose loyalty to her cause transcends all else.

Keith Howell, West Linton, Scottish Borders

Labour’s error

If the leaders of Scottish Labour had kept their fingers on the pulse of voter sentiment in Scotland, they could have been making preparations even at this early stage to have Anas Sarwar in Bute House after the next election. Instead, it pandered to the woke elements in their own party and decided to join the nationalists and continue to pretend the emperor is wearing clothes.

They backed the now fatally discredited GRR bill without safety-driven amendments; they did not even allow their MSPs a free vote. In the end it may not matter as the SNP continue digging their own electoral grave on the same subject, but it was still a grave error on Labour’s part and perhaps a good lesson.

Principled stands are appreciated by voters.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

Unclear glass

It is not just retailers in Scotland who need more information on the planned Deposit Return Scheme – consumers would appreciate some clarity too. For example, if I place an order for beer or wine from an English-based company with no outlets in Scotland, where would I return my empty bottles to? Will there be separate arrangements for people who are housebound and are reliant on online deliveries? Will the “Blue Bin” collection by City of Edinburgh Council for glass items remain? And what exactly is the difference between an empty glass bottle of beer and an empty glass jar of marmalade in environmental terms? Both are single-use items so why the distinction in the DRS?Linda McPherson, Edinburgh

Fury of Furries

As well as foxes and otters, has bird flu also got to the bunnies pulling the controls of those “trans-trender” covenanters with their latest “cunning plan”? Thwarted by the intervention of Whitehall and the hilarious bumbling ineptitude on live TV of Nicola Sturgeon to defend the indefensible, they are now going to counter demonstrate against Glasgow's Let Women Speak rally on Sunday while – wait for it! – dressed up in pantomime animal costumes under the title of “Furries Against Fascism”.They believe the sight will be “massively intimidating” to participants, some of them survivors of appalling abuse from violent, predatory males. Yes, really! The only physical risk to the “Woman Won't Wheesht!” brigade is dying of laughter or It’s a Knockout flashbacks.May I suggest to those behind this farrago – this Trans-Furry Axis of the Absurd about to make themselves and their cause a planetary laughing stock forever – that attending dressed up as Rainbow's Bungle would be strikingly apt?

Mark Boyle, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

Out of tune

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I write as a grandparent of a pupil at Dalkeith High School who could be a victim of cuts in the Education Budget being proposed by Midlothian Council. The learning and study of music from an early age is equally as important as “the three Rs” in any child’s education. When John Knox declared in the 16th century, “Let there be a school in every parish”, he set out a standard which made Scotland the most literate nation in Europe 200 years later. This tradition of a well rounded education has been maintained ever since and any reduction of subjects and standards is to be deplored.

My granddaughter has benefited throughout her school career by good tuition in all academic subjects and her interest in music has developed over the years to her personal benefit and the pleasure of others.

I feel that any reduction in musical tuition should be resisted by all concerned, either by personal petition or, ultimately, by the ballot box.

Sandy Macpherson, Edinburgh

Thanks, driver

The other day, when I was 15 yards from my stop in Princes Street, the 24 bus was just pulling away. I waved frantically and the driver kindly stopped again and let me on. Would a self-driving bus do that?

Michael Grey, Edinburgh

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