'Footie' bank holiday?

Unite: potential extra bank holiday should be made permanent – and every worker must receive it

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As Downing Street reportedly considers an extra bank holiday if England wins the Euro 2020 final against Italy on Sunday (July 11), Unite has called on prime minister Boris Johnson to ensure every worker gets the much-deserved break.

It was rumoured that the prime minister may grant an ‘emergency’ bank holiday on Monday (July 12), if England were to win the match on Sunday night, which begins at 8pm and may not finish until almost 11pm if the match goes into extra time.

Calls for the Monday off have grown after a petition on Parliament’s website has garnered more than 300,000 signatures in a matter of days.

“Sunday 8pm is a difficult time for families to plan to be together for the event – knowing we have an additional day off the next day would significantly help this,” the petition read.

But given the logistical difficulty of announcing a bank holiday the evening before, it is thought that Downing Street will more likely consider an extra bank holiday later this month or next month in the event that England wins the final.

When asked about the possibility of a bank holiday at a visit to energy company Bulb’s London headquarters on Thursday (July 8), Boris Johnson responded, “I think that would be tempting fate; let’s see what happens.”

The prime minister’s spokesperson said that Downing Street will set out its plans for celebrations if England wins the final in ‘due course’, adding that it is encouraging bosses to give their workers time off on Monday (July 12).

While Unite and other unions have welcomed news of a potential extra bank holiday, they have stressed that the bank holiday should be made permanent, especially given the low number of bank holidays that British workers receive compared to other workers in Europe.

Commenting, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said, “If England bring it home on Sunday, government should allow the country to celebrate by announcing a special bank holiday.

“But it can’t just be a one off. UK workers get fewer bank holidays than most of our European counterparts. The TUC has long called for more public holidays. So come on England!”

Unite has also said that sufficient notice should be given for the extra bank holiday so that all workers receive it. For frontline workers who cannot take the day off, they must be provided with an alternative date for a break.

Commenting, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said, “After the last 16 months, all workers deserve an extra day off in appreciation of how they have gone the extra yard to help the UK through the pandemic. If that coincides with a holiday to mark England winning Sunday’s final, all the better.

Echoing Frances O’Grady, he added, “An extra bank holiday shouldn’t just be a one off. Workers in the UK enjoy fewer bank holidays than their counterparts throughout the rest of Europe.

“A permanent extra bank holiday will give a long-term boost to industries such as hospitality and tourism which have been among the worst affected sectors during the pandemic,” McCluskey went on to say.

“If the government does grant an extra bank holiday this year it should provide sufficient notice to ensure that workers can make plans and to ensure that frontline workers who are still required to work, are provided with an alternative date,” he continued.

“It needs to be recognised that there remains sections of the economy which will not welcome an extra bank holiday and will try to ignore it and not give workers an extra paid day off. The government must take the necessary measures to ensure that all workers are guaranteed an extra day off.”

By Hajera Blagg

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