Letters: Business must supply decent jobs for society

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If our workers are badly paid they are too skint to buy British goods and services. If our workers are forced sign up to irregular hour contracts that are abusive, then they cannot make plans to start a family or plan for retirement.

If our workers have bleak career prospects or dire working conditions, the brightest will choose to ply their trade overseas and the most desperate will opt out of making a positive contribution to society.

In short, non-decent jobs undermine Britain’s economic growth and prosperity, heap a financial burden on the welfare state and help shred the social fabric which binds our great communities together.

Responsible business recognise this problem and believes decent jobs go hand-in-hand with a sustainable and inclusive recovery that balances consumer-led growth and export-development; competitive advantage based on quality as well as cost; worker productivity and customer service; job creation and an efficient tax-and-spend state.

More than this, responsible business should stand up for decent jobs. This is why decent and profitable businesses from all corners of the economy call on government to develop public policy that creates a level playing field to ensure these firms can do even more and that others feel confident or are compelled to do the same.

Founding signatories to the new Business Campaign for Decent Jobs include small, mid-sized and large companies alike from sectors including financial services (Unity Trust Bank), construction, engineering and energy (Newform Energy), food and health (Suma Wholefoods), management consulting (Carbon Free Group), and retail (Unicorn Grocery). Together we ask government to move beyond inadequate voluntary action to do three things:

1. Mandate a living wage;

2. End the abuse of irregular hour contracts;

3. Leverage public procurement and pension funds to reward decent employers.

We also call on other like-minded business leaders to join us in this vital campaign, by signing-up and inviting peers to do the same.

Philip Monaghan, Chair, Business Campaign for Decent Jobs; CEO, Infrangilis

Alex Neil’s NHS plans are already in place

Having worked in the health service and in the social services in England and Scotland for more than 30years, I was surprised to read Health Secretary Alex Neil’s comments on the subject of ‘hospital huddles stop muddles’.

In every situation where I have worked there has been what we called a ‘handover’ or a ‘changeover’, where details of patients’ or clients’ needs for the following shifts were discussed in detail.

We did not call this a ‘huddle’ and I am surprised that in his exalted position Mr Neil appears to be unaware that this procedure has been in progress throughout the British Isles and had no need to visit Cincinnati to tell us how to care for our clients.

William M Irvine, St Martin’s Gate, Haddington, East Lothian

Time to pull the plug on Prestwick Airport

Scepticism has greeted the publication of the development blueprint for the regeneration of Prestwick Airport.

The flights from Prestwick are only one a day whereas Glasgow has 100.

There is even the suggestion that Prestwick could become the UK’s first spaceport, which is unfortunate in view of the Virgin Galactic crash in California.

The Scottish Government, or should we say the SNP, bought Prestwick for £1 and they have already loaned £15 million with another £10 million to be released in 2015.

Edinburgh airport chief executive, Gordon Dewar summed it up admirably saying that the recovery plan was “not credible” and that millions were being spent to support a “failing business” with “little prospect of success”.

So this is £25 million of taxpayers’ money going down the drain.

Time for Nicola Sturgeon to shake off her mentor’s discredited hand and stamp her own authority by pulling the Prestwick plug.

Clark Cross, Springfield Road, Linlithgow

Religion and the law should be separated

I was interested to hear that Humanist Society Scotland has commissioned an academic study into the extent to which religion is entangled within Scottish law.

Religious reactions to this research have varied. Rev Sally Foster-Fulton, Church and Society Convener at the Kirk has said “Our work and advocacy for the poor and marginalised, and our contribution to the cultural ­heritage of Scotland should be reflected within Scottish law.”

Why should this follow ? There are many charities who do similar work but have no expectations to influence the legal system.

Despite the Kirk’s laudable work with the underprivileged, their range of attitudes, especially on sexual morality, should not be brought to bear on legislation. What if you were a gay parent seeking custody of a child ?

Rev David Robertson, who will become Free Church Moderator in May, described the move as “laughable” and “propaganda dressed up as research”.

This is an insult to the professional academics involved who have been commissioned only to produce facts.

Is the truth so fearful ?

Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society, Saughtonhall Drive, Edinburgh