IN the five decades I’ve worked in the waste management industry, industrial disputes have mostly fallen into two categories, either driven by the outcome of national negotiations, or local incidents. The former (the most famous being in the dying embers of the Callaghan Government) were always settled nationally.

The latter were usually the result of proposals to introduce new working practices, or where employees had been suspended while allegations into their conduct were investigated (the suspensions were invariably seen by the workforce and disinterested commentators as a presumption of guilt).

Unless councillors sat on the national negotiating board, they had no involvement in settling a national dispute. And at local level councillors only became involved when the grievance procedures (re new working practices) or appeals committee (after employees had been disciplined) were invoked.

I’m therefore at a loss to understand why Glasgow’s council leader would let herself be drawn into direct negotiations with the trade union in a dispute that on the face of it is about pay and conditions. Where does she turn to if she can’t broker a deal? And if she does get a deal (that’s to the benefit of the workforce) what’s to stop other council employees (teachers, social workers, lawyers and so on) using the same approach?

Where is the cleansing management in all this? Have they been so emasculated by the councillors that they can't deal with the workforce? Is it possible that this dispute is as much about the lack of professional management in recent years as about pay?

Disputes like this are rare in the private sector as the employees know their firm’s competitors are just waiting to pounce and offer alternative services. That option isn’t available in the public sector. I’m also appalled at the number of people (mostly online) demanding that "private contractors" or "the troops" be brought in. Is that the best idea they can come up with?

I declare an interest: I’ve been a GMB member for more than 20 years after they merged with my trade union.

John F Crawford, chartered waste manager (retired), Lytham.


LESLEY Riddoch ("Tories Major and Stewart touted as the voices of decency? Pull the other one", The Herald, November 8)expounds on the varying degrees of concern which younger folks have about the climate situation. She goes on to ask the reader if 95 per cent of our pals were anxious about any world issues when we were in our teens.

Not really, I suppose, if you discount the absolute terror sitting in my classroom at the height of the Cuban crisis thinking that this will be my last day on Earth because nuclear Armageddon is going to get me. Nowadays, I’m older but still terrified about becoming ill and the absence of any discernible health service, worried about our kids’ education, poverty that continues on its depressing downward trend. Climate? It’s well down my list of "worry" priorities.

Jim Prentice, Stirling.


AS COP26 is being hosted in Scotland thousands of acres of moorland, marshland and white grassland is being ploughed up in order to plant millions of non-native conifers, Sitka and Norway spruce. This is monoculture of the worst kind.

Vital nesting habitats for endangered birds such as curlews, golden plovers, snipe and others are being relentlessly destroyed. The forestry companies and sawmills are buying up huge tracks of hill to plant; in turn private investors are cashing in. As we lecture other countries to stop destroying rain forests we in turn are destroying this delicate and highly important habitat. If this goes on unchecked all of Scotland and her hills will be covered in black conifers around which nothing grows; those hills and peat bogs will be gone for ever along with their birds.

Farmers are constantly in the firing line for changing their farming practices, but the forestry groups seem to be sailing under the security blanket of "let's plant trees to save the planet". This type of planting does anything but.

In Dumfries and Galloway where I live nearly all our hill ground has gone. Curlew numbers have fallen by 89%, because they have nowhere to nest.

Minette Bell Macdonald, Lockerbie.


SINCE Mark Carney, former governor of the Bank of England, puts the cost of the UK net zero policy at "around £73 trillion", is that worth it to the taxpayer?

Huge societal upsets from drastic changes to our households, industry and transport are additional, certain consequences of net zero, as the taxpayer is starting to realise. However, because the UK's release of man-made carbon dioxide is negligible, at 0.00845% of the planet's total output, Scotland's one-tenth of that, we have no realistic reason to decarbonise any further.

Net zero decarbonisation is a totally unacceptable UK policy for a perceived problem from our share of man-made climate change.

Charles Wardrop, Perth.


I NOTE that pro-Union/anti-SNP correspondents have recently added piles of rubbish and the presence of rats in Glasgow to the bingo card of things that must be mentioned in every letter. Heaps of refuse lying about the city has also, apparently, been a hot topic in the current mayoral election in Rome. However, of greater concern are the wolves and wild boars which are to be found foraging amongst them. Now them’s big rats.

Robin Irvine, Helensburgh.