SIR - Direct action only works if it causes rapid and intolerable disruption to the provision of essential goods or services. The 1984 miners’ strike failed because Arthur Scargill called it in March as demand for household coal was reducing; the Nottingham miners refused to join in and large users had already built their stocks in anticipation.

At the same time the Civil Service unions thought selective action in the banking sections of the Inland Revenue and the Customs would halt the flow of revenue and so persuade Mrs Thatcher to agree a proper wage settlement. Instead, a new bank account was opened so traders could pay their dues directly to the Treasury and after seven weeks with nothing achieved the strike collapsed.

Alan Bates (T&A letters, October 7) now wants eco-protesters swept away with water cannon but my advice is not to bother. Although they cause some disruption, it is limited as they go home each evening and start elsewhere in the morning.

Apart from unglueing a few demonstrators, further action seems unnecessary because disruption caused by their ‘scattergun' approach is inconvenient but no longer makes headlines and is fast becoming a another lost cause.

Brian Holmans, Langley Road, Bingley