Reader’s letters - Friday April 3, 2015

GREEN FIELDS: Cuadrilla exploration drilling site in Balcombe, West Sussex, (see letter)
GREEN FIELDS: Cuadrilla exploration drilling site in Balcombe, West Sussex, (see letter)
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Stand up to fight fracking

I am against fracking and in my opinion we should be calling a halt altogether. No doubt many people have heard or read why other Governments worldwide have dismissed fracking out of hand – because of safety and environmental concerns.

Could this be because the time of day was wrong or they were in a bad mood?

No it’s actually the evidence amassed from the USA – published by many national and international news outlets – where this activity has been detrimental to those who have fracking in their communities. Those other governments have sought to protect their population but not the UK’s who are putting potential profit ahead of people’s wellbeing. Nothing new there then.

This needs to stop before it starts by LCC councillors doing their elected duty – listening to their constituents – and voting no in April. Maybe some appear to be supporting this abomination in our mist in the misguided belief of a nirvana of job creation, especially in Blackpool.

Let’s take another look at Cuadrilla’s map of their proposed sites. None in Blackpool, instead the lovely Lancashire countryside in around Singleton, Weeton, Kirkham, Wrea Green etc will see and feel the effects.

Jobs? Yes if you’re a technician with specified qualifications, not sure about the ordinary man in the street given the proposals for related degree courses. Not that any fracking-related jobs would compensate for the potential of what could be lost in tourism and in all the other related businesses who depend on our visitors.

Perhaps we believe they will still want to visit to view the rolling green fields and lovely views only to find mountains of soil and heavy machinery. Stand up for Lancashire, sign the petition at @38degrees.org.uk and make your opinion count. Heard the one about one person making a difference?

Elaine Lesbirel, Kirkham

Union policies need scrutiny

The letter from T Wilson (letters March 23) is misleading in the extreme. He talks of all workers as “victims of global market forces” and describes wages as historically low.

However, he is not presumably talking about those in Unison where the chief executive earned over £112,000 or over four times the average worker.

The employees of Unison enjoy average salaries of £36,000, over 135 per cent of the average, paid for by their member’s levies, so they are victims of Unison levies as well it would appear.

Mr Wilson talks of a migration control policy in a negative way, however, the basic economics are that in a flooded labour market wages are compressed as supply exceeds demand.

The policies of the previous Labour and Tory governments in allowing unfettered immigration have kept the wages of the very people Mr Wilson claims to represent at lower levels than they would otherwise have been.

The in-work benefits system created under previous Labour and Tory governments, supported in the case of Labour by Mr Wilson’s union, is a large part of the problem keeping wages low and encouraging part time work.

Unison should be supporting measures which would increase the wages of working people, of which migration control is one. The fact that the first aim of the union in its annual report is recruitment of new members rather than improving the lot of its existing members tells its own story.

UKIP has a policy of no tax on the minimum wage and I have yet to see this being endorsed by any union despite the positive impact it would have on the low paid, demonstrating again that the union motivation is political and not focused on helping workers.

UKIP believe common sense policies should be supported from wherever they originate based on the benefits it would bring, not political dogma.

MarkSmith, UKIP Parliamentary Candidate for Chorley

Take up battle on zero hours

There are around 1.8m workers on zero hour contracts according to an Office for National statistics report last month. There will be tens of thousands of these in the North West.

As the economy has recovered, the figures show these casual contracts are not on the decline, but booming. This type of contract is now standard in some sectors such as social care – bad news for social care workers and the elderly and disabled they care for as carers often no longer have regular schedules.

These Victorian-style contracts put all the power with the employer, with individuals not knowing how many hours or how much money they will get from one week to the next. On top of this, one in four North West workers are paid below the living wage, and workers in the North West are around £90 a week worse off on average as a result of pay remaining below inflation.

We don’t need posturing politics from Cameron and the Tories like threats of more restrictions on the right of Trade Unions to take industrial action that help no one, but we do need action on casualisation and zero hours contracts.

Those of us in the trade union movement should support every attempt of workers to win collectively better agreements and terms and conditions that can roll back the zero hours culture.

But we should all also be demanding of politicians that they address this issue urgently with legislation and demand to know their position on this scandal as the general election approaches.

Tony Wilson, UNISON National Executive Council (NEC) member, North West

TV is dumbing down too much

So many programmes feature people who are either famous for being famous or famous for something unrelated to what the show purports to be about.

I am interested in cars but I don’t watch Top Gear for the same reason I don’t watch Strictly Come Dancing. They are both phoney.

However, I sympathise with commercial TV because it has to dumb down in some areas to subsidise its quality programmes. The BBC has no such excuse but the public should take some of the blame. The viewers who are whinging about the licence fee are the very same people who complain about the populist rubbish the Beeb thinks it needs to put out to justify it.

Michael Sheridan, address supplied