19 Jan 2011

Paisley Daily Express - 19 January 2011

Teacher Cuts

I was shocked when I heard that Renfrewshire Council plans to replace teachers for 10% of the school week, with non qualified staff. The more I hear, the worse this story becomes. It now appears that SNP and Liberal Democrat Councillors, supported by the Tories, want to replace teachers with the long term unemployed. Teachers will be removed from the class room, to be replaced by unqualified people who have been put through a short European funded course. You would have to be unemployed for six months or more to be considered. The reason for this is simply to save money. Up until now we have taken for granted that our children will be taught by qualified, registered teachers. Now in Renfrewshire teachers will be replaced by unqualified and inexperienced recruits from the dole. Do you think this is right? I want to hear from you. Email me on hugh.henry.msp@scottish.parliament.uk If you want to sign the online petition go to www.ipetitions.com/petition/keepteachers/

Report that Pothole

The Paisley Daily Express has been reporting on the shocking state of our roads. I have never seen potholes like this in all the years I have been driving. In some places I’ve seen what is virtually a ditch running down the middle of the road. In other areas I’ve seen holes you can stand in. I’ve witnessed motorists swerving to avoid these potholes, to try to avoid expensive damage to cars and tyres. In doing so, the risk of accident increases significantly.

I know from my mailbag the anger and frustration that this damage causes. Motorists become exasperated when they try to make a claim but this is refused by the Council and its insurers. The excuse is usually that the pothole had not been reported and so the Council refuses to accept responsibility. I am urging readers to do yourself and other motorists a favour. REPORT THAT POTHOLE. If you register a problem, the Council will find it difficult to avoid liability if a car is subsequently damaged. Report potholes to Roads & Lighting Faults on 0141 842 4466

Workers’ Rights

I noticed politicians of all parties welcoming the news that Amazon was creating additional jobs in Inverclyde and in Fife. There is no doubt that a jobs boost is welcome at a time when workers across Scotland face redundancy. But I was shocked to read a story before Christmas about employment practices at Amazon. According to press reports, Amazon had taken on extra temporary staff to meet demand. The reports said that on one occasion, in the middle of the night, some temporary staff were told that there was no further work for them, and that they should go home. How cruel can you get? These low paid workers had to find their own way home, some having to phone taxis they could ill afford, simply because a large and profitable company no longer needed them. I thought we had seen the last of casual labour being hired and fired after a few hours. We fought long and hard to give ordinary working people rights at work. This is now clearly under threat. Behaviour like this demonstrates why it is important to join a trade union. Why is it that the top earners such as bankers, need millions to give them the incentive to work, but ordinary working people can be treated like dirt because costs have to be kept down?

Children’s Lairs

Have SNP and Liberal Democrat Councillors in Renfrewshire no shame? I couldn’t believe it when the Paisley Daily Express reported that these insensitive Councillors had voted to increase charges to bereaved parents whose child had died. Parents will have to pay £132.50 to bury a child under 12, up from £35. By 2014 this will rise to £265. I have demanded information from the Chief Executive about how much this will actually raise. I suspect it will be a few thousand pounds at the most. If these Councillors want to save money, they could rake back the annual bonus they have given to top Directors. They have decided to tax the death of children and maintain the inflated pay of top Directors. This is just plain wrong. They should think again.

SNP sentence U turn

In opposition Alex Salmond and Kenny MacAskill said they would end the automatic early release of prisoners. It was a manifesto commitment in 2007. Last week we learned that this was another promise which was being ditched. It’s time we had honesty in sentencing. We need more transparency. Sheriffs and the public need to know how long someone will serve when sentenced. I want the Sentencing Commission to look at the whole issue of sentences so that everyone knows where they stand.