Proud of what unions achieved

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From: Tom Howley, Wetherby.

MOST employees, manual and clerical, “enjoyed” a normal working week of 48 hours, Monday to Friday and Saturday mornings until the printing unions bravely embarked on a six-week strike to break the pattern in 1959 (Bernard Ingham, Yorkshire Post, March 16).

I was a young member of one of the craft unions involved – supported by some journalists of the NUJ – and I am proud that my sacrifice was not in vain and that the printers’ victory eventually brought a benefit for all working people.

Three decades later my job was taken over by computers and I was made redundant by a combination of technology and Margaret Thatcher’s employment laws, as my employer offered choice of a reduced wages and inferior working conditions and a weakening of trade union influence, or a severance payment. Most of my colleagues opted for a redundancy package.

Bernard Ingham now mocks the trade union movement and belittles its achievements to bring about a fairer society. I don’t know if Sir Bernard was one of the journalists who supported the 1959 dispute which ended the iniquitious 48-hours five-and-a-half-day working week, if he was, he should be as proud as I am.

Library lifeline

From: Mrs EA Yeomans, Burnsall, near Skipton.

THE proposed closure of many libraries in North Yorkshire is of concern to many people. Of greater concern to people who live in the smaller villages is the proposed death of our mobile libraries, about which we hear very little in the press or on television.

I wonder how much thought has been given to how people can access books if we lose our mobile libraries? For myself it would mean either a special trip to Grassington, using extra fuel which is becoming increasingly expensive, or going to Skipton and having to pay exorbitant car parking charges to get near enough to the library to carry the number of books I would need.

Many people would have to travel much further than me. How could elderly people who do not have access to a car or public transport manage?

I have been borrowing books from the mobile library for over 37 years. The staff are all very helpful and friendly, they choose books for people who cannot get into the library, they battle through all weather conditions to get to us. What is going to happen to them?

Books are important. It is imperative that we encourage our children to use, value and respect them.

We know books can easily be downloaded nowadays, but nothing can beat sitting by a fire on a cold winter’s evening or snuggling down in bed with a good book.

Hypocrisy over the cuts

From: D Down, Mountbatten Avenue, Sandal, Wakefield.

OH, the hypocrisy of the Labour Party and Ed Milliband in accusing Nick Clegg as the man of broken promises.

To the contrary, Nick Clegg should be applauded for having the courage to compromise his party’s political pre-election ambitions like wanting no increases in students’ financial contributions for their higher / further education but, having realised the state of the public purse upon taking up power with the Conservatives, that the country could not afford it.

The same goes for Yvette Cooper’s hypocritical comments (Yorkshire Post, March 15) on the possible effects upon the level of police manpower resulting from the Government’s financial cuts and trying to humiliate Nick Clegg by drawing the reader’s attention to his alleged statements in this respect during the last election campaign.

She should remember that Alistair Darling while still Chancellor, admitted that cuts in public expenditure would be inevitable irrespective of who got into power.

I would ask Yvette Cooper to tell us where Labour would make and manage the necessary cuts and stop the hypocritical attacks on a man who is facing up to the realities of the current economic crisis and trying to take decisions in the interests of the country as a whole and not in his party political interests.

Governor’s response

From: JW Smith, Sutton-on-Sea.

ON February 23, I wrote to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Governor of the Bank of England about the possible increase in interest rates. An acknowledgement by return from the Governor and a full reply dated March 2 which was headed and signed off personally by Mervyn King, contrasts with action by the Chancellor from whom I have received neither reply nor acknowledgement.

Why does this not surprise me? The opening paragraph from Mr King reads: “Thank you for your letter of 23 February providing me with your views on interest rates. I am always grateful to people who take the time to write to me with their thoughts.”

The business verdict (Yorkshire Post, March 9) ahead of the crunch interest rate decision by nine members of the Yorkshire Shadow Monetary Policy Committee, resulted in seven of them agreeing with my views and two favouring an increase. In fact, most of the comments against could have been taken from my letter.

I am a pensioner and would very much like an improvement in investment income, but I fail to see the argument made by Margaret Wood that “we need to put money back into people’s pockets”. At present inflation is price-led, not consumer-led and all an increase would achieve would be further unwanted pressure on prices as a result of higher borrowing rates and it would most certainly disadvantage mortgage holders. At best I might break even, but many others would be worse off.