FOLLOWING the correspondence over the recent P&O outrage, I can agree, indeed empathise from personal experience, with all of the righteous indignation expressed therein.

However, has anybody ever really considered the historical background to this event? Some appear to believe that it is all attributable to Brexit; it may no doubt have been exacerbated by leaving, but its roots lie much deeper.

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The real start of the precarious employment conditions had its beginnings, I think, as far back as 1979, with the rise of Thatcher/Regan neoliberalism based on the economic theories of Milton Friedman. This was rampant free-marketism at its most cutthroat, and paved the way for Blair in 1997.

I well remember the huge wave of disappointment and despair which swept the country when it finally dawned on people what Blairism was all about, having already endured 18 years of Thatcher and Major. Having ditched Clause Four, that ought to have been ample forewarning, but New Labour fancied that that rendered them electable. Well, it did in the short term, but they sold their soul to the devil, just like Doctor Faustus, in the process. Who could ever trust such duplicity again?

I have personal experience of this casualisation of work contracts – if not so devastating – when, as junior lecturers in an further education college in the 1990s, we found ourselves summarily sacked from a permanent contract and invited to re-apply for our positions, but on a temporary and renewable basis. This move, of course, greatly increased management control over the workforce, whilst at the same time saving themselves a whole lot of money as they could now hire and fire with impunity, and not pay pension or holiday pay into the bargain.

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Two of Scotland’s colleges challenged the legality of this sleight of hand at the time – Falkirk and Aberdeen, if my memory serves me – but lost their case as it was judged to be “legal” ... although downright unethical.

An interesting little aperçu was that, although the move was ostensibly to save money, this didn`t appear to stand in the way of the principal treating himself to a new Jaguar whilst we lecturers all lived in fear of having our hours cut – especially if we were overheard to speak angrily about work conditions. At one heated meeting between staff and management, the question was raised whether senior management were also on these fragile contracts. Eventually the answer was wrested from them: “No.” “Oh, why’s that?” “Because we’re in the lifeboat” came the unbelievable reply.

An interesting precedent to P&O. Plus ça change, etc.

Brian York

LESLEY Riddoch’s article “Ferries unsuited to the islands they serve” (Mar 31) highlights two specific problems – the lack of community representation and limited management thinking. Unfortunately, these are issues symptomatic of the top-down form of control and government we suffer from too frequently in Scotland.

In contrast, communities throughout the country reacted positively to provide responses to the Covid pandemic, yet all too often local expertise and entrepreneurial ability is ignored by those further up the chain.

As a former merchant navy chief engineer and operations manager, I would suggest that the unbalanced structure and limited forward thinking of the CalMac board is totally unsuitable to provide fit-for-purpose ferry services.

Bob Ingram

I WRITE in support of Frieda Burns’s letter (Mar 28) which makes mention of the chant “Tories Tories Tories, out out out”. She is correct – as an indy movement we must be inclusive and tolerant of all political persuasions (except fascist).

To be otherwise is to alienate citizens who either support independence or a referendum or are open to them.

Another call I have seen on placards, although mainly at local election times, is “Red Tories out” in reference to Labour. In our movement we must differentiate between the leadership of these two parties and many in their memberships and among their voting supporters.

To the letter-writers who claim delay in the calling of the referendum is causing support for independence to fall, I would refer to what Paul Kavanagh (Wee Ginger Dug) wrote. If Johnson believed there was minority support for independence he would have no hesitation in agreeing a referendum for the reasons Paul gives.

Regarding the open letter to Nicola Sturgeon from John of Ayrshire (Mar 28) with his stated intentions, ending by saying he would not be voting again for the rest of his life – Nicola must be shaking in her shoes.

Bobby Brennan

MAY I support Frieda Burns of Stonehaven in calling for an end to the chant of “Tories out!” during AUOB marches. It is demeaning! Not to the Tories, but to those who lower themselves to the level of uttering abuse of this nature. I can remember once seeing a placard for “Tories for Independence”. If I am correct, then we need their votes along with every other independence-supporting vote if we are to achieve our aim of regaining the independence that we lost 300-plus years ago. I have never voted Tory in my life, but would not lower myself to indulging in such a chant.

Charlie Kerr

MANY thanks to Michael Follon (Letters, Mar 30) for the correction concerning James Wilson and the writing of the Bill of Rights. It’s been a while since I looked at the origins of the American political system; one part bled into another!

Brian Powell
St Andrews