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Letters: John Lewis should be a gift for our politicians

IT saddens me to hear the news that partners who work for the John Lewis Partnership (JLP) will be receiving a 15% bonus on their salaries in lieu of profits made.

JLP is a company where every employee is a partner and any profits made will go not to shareholders, but to employees. This is an annual event and bonuses usually vary between 15% and 20% of salary.

I am saddened, because the powers-that-be at Stormont, through their short-sighted attitude, passed up an opportunity for the creation of up to 1,000 well-paid, private-sector jobs – something much sought-after in the province.

I worked as a senior manager in department stores for more than 35 years in England and JLP were always held up as the exemplar of the correct way to run a company, in terms of fair wages, opportunities for promotion and the excellent way they look after their staff.

The Luddites will always bring up the loss of jobs in the High Street, but all businesses stand, or fall, on what they offer their customer.

To counter that argument, successful companies, like JLP, attract a cluster of new, innovative businesses around them, and thereby create further employment.

I do hope that, if this company is resilient enough to renew its interest in the province, it is not met again with a wall of dinosaurs unable to recognise a gift-horse when they see one.


Bangor, Co Down


SDLP neglecting family values and structures

JESUS once remarked to some educated people: "You can predict the weather by looking at the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs concerning these times." (Matthew 16:3)

Presently, the signs of the times tell us that instability in marriage and family life is a cause of increased societal problems.

A third of children now live in homes where one, or both, natural parents are absent and among our young people, there are alarming levels of truancy, unemployment, anti-social behaviour, abuse of drugs and alcohol, with increasing rates of suicide.

Moreover, those who do not honour their own homes and families are unlikely to observe any fixed standards of justice where others are concerned.

Humanity, in this sort of crisis, generally remains insensitive to the gravity of the times in which we live.

However, politicians have no excuse for ignoring the signs of the times.

So it is disappointing that the SDLP neglects to promote practical ways and means of strengthening traditional family structures – children, parents and grandparents – but, instead, recognises alternative types of relationships as "marriage".




Staff's pittance to serve the great and good

WHILE the great and the good of the Northern Irish business elite paid a reported £10,000 a table to hear Bill Clinton discuss his work, leadership and his views on our peace process, many of those in the room went about their business unseen and unconsidered.

The hospitality staff of students, recent graduates and others toiled to serve food, drinks and ensure that everyone was catered for in a manner fitting a presidential address.

However, these people were not paid a premium for their time, with Queen's University choosing to pay them less than a living wage at £6.80-an-hour.

The majority of these workers live a precarious existence of zero-hour contracts, not knowing if they will work from one week to the next.

This sits in stark comparison with the new QUB vice-chancellor, who earns almost £250,000 annually.

Queen's and other public institutions should be leading the way in treating all their staff with respect by paying a living wage and offering them secure employment conditions.


South Belfast Green Party


We must not be bound by the past

NO man had more influence in shaping our civilisation than Socrates. In the 5th Century BC, he believed in the One God and he died for that belief.

Because of his technique of questioning all the things that the Athenian society of the time took for granted, he was likened to a gadfly stinging a horse.

He was eventually condemned to death by poisoning.

Socrates obviously had faith. Was his faith essentially the same as mine? If not, why not? There is only one heaven.

Moral teaching has to have the capacity to deal with the moral problems of today, without being hidebound by former precedent.

Remember the Lord's parable, warning against putting new wine in old wineskins.


By email


Charities say a big thank you

NI CANCER CARE: Omagh (Dec 6) £383.00; Lisburn (Dec 10) £270.00: Ballymena (Dec 18) £130.28; Portglenone (Dec 21) £183.75; Londonderry (Dec 24) £263.50.


NSPCC: Donaghadee (Sept 7) £183.80; Portadown (Nov 22) £706.43.


PARKINSON'S SUPPORT: Tesco Knocknagoney (Mar 1) £686.00.


ACTION MS (NI): Newry (Jan 4) £528.58 and (Jan 4) £497.70; Coalisland (Jan 17) £339.59.


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