January 22 Letters: Tories used to recognise the value of unions in workplace

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From: Michael Meadowcroft, Honorary Alderman, City of Leeds, Waterloo Lane, Leeds.

THE comment of the Regional Secretary of the Unison union, John Cafferty, that “the Tories and the TaxPayers’ Alliance are ideologically opposed to the very existence of trade unions in the workplace” (The Yorkshire Post, January 17) is not quite accurate. If he had confined his statement to the present generation of Tories he would certainly have been correct but, in my experience, previous local Conservative leaders such as Frank Marshall and Irwin Bellow understood and accepted the role of trade unions.

Indeed the latter went further and, at a time when councillors had no set financial allowance, enabled a Leeds City Council employee, Lawrence Conlon, to have full time off with pay to be the Labour leader of Kirklees District Council. He said to me at the time: “How otherwise can a working man carry out such an important role?”

Clearly full time trade union officers should be paid by their unions but it is perfectly legitimate for the many part-time union officers, shop stewards and the like to continue their full time council employment with time off to practise their representational duties.

The fact is that good trade unionism enables there to be a beneficial partnership with management and it contributes to ensuring that grievances do not fester and that employees feel that complaints not dealt with directly are assessed and represented. The kind of congenital prejudice against trade unions now being shown by Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles, Shipley MP Philip Davies and other Conservatives is detrimental to a healthy relationship and it breeds antagonism and entrenched views.

From: David H Rhodes, Keble Park North, Bishopthorpe, York.

recent debate on pensioner entitlements are justified on the basis that they paid their taxes through their working life. Surely this argument is invalid, as bus passes, winter fuel allowances and free TV licences for the over 75s were not around during their taxable working years, so provision could not have been made for such future benefits?

In this time of the UK’s indebtedness, the profusion of charitable freebies including free loft insulation cavity, wall insulation etc is questionable. Surely all benefits should be reviewed with a small levy imposed, say 50p per journey with a bus pass and revenue redirected to organisations such as the NHS?

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