Time to end the nation's 30-year wait for a new bank holiday

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date: 29 April 2008

embargo: 00.01 hrs Thursday 1 May2008

The TUC is today (Thursday) marking the 30th anniversary of the creation of the May Day holiday - the last bank holiday to be introduced in the UK - by calling for a new autumn holiday to celebrate the great British tradition of volunteering.

The Callaghan Government introduced the May Day bank holiday on 1 May 1978. As people across the UK celebrated the extra day off work, the Bee Gees were top of the charts with Night Fever, Nottingham Forest were on the way to winning the First Division and a pint of bitter cost just 40p.

But while the worlds of football and music have moved on, the UK's bank holiday allocation has been left behind. No new bank holidays have been introduced since 1978, leaving Britain with just eight, the second lowest in Europe.

The TUC believes that a new bank holiday would help repay employees for their part in building the UK's economic success. The real value of the economy has doubled since 1978, but wages have not kept pace. If today's workers had the same share of the economy that went to wages in 1978, they would each have an extra £2,339 per year - easily enough to pay for another bank holiday.

The TUC, along with leading voluntary organisations, want a new Community Day bank holiday in late October to celebrate and encourage volunteering and community activity.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'We've gone thirty years without a new bank holiday and the UK is now languishing behind the rest of Europe. People are crying out for a new bank holiday, a call that politicians should be listening to.

'A new bank holiday would give everyone much-needed time with friends and family. Timing it around late October would also create a welcome pit-stop to break the gruelling four-month stint between the August bank holiday and the Christmas break.

'But a new bank holiday should not just be a day off work, it should be a special day that brings the nation together. What better cause for us all to celebrate than our great British tradition of volunteering.'

NOTES TO EDITORS:

- The Community Day campaign is supported by the TUC, Volunteering England, National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), Community Service Volunteers (CSV) and the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action (NAVCA).

- The TUC has supported an early day motion (EDM 1400) calling for a new bank holiday. So far 55 MPs have signed the EDM (as of Monday 28 April). To find out which MPs have signed the EDM go to http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=35650&SESSION=891

- The share of the economy that is paid out in workers' wages has fallen by 4.2 per cent since 1978, which amounts to £58 billion in today's economy (4.2% of £1,384 billion). £58 billion divided by 24,793,618 employees = £2,339 per employee.

Wages as a share of the UK economy: 1978 and 2007

Total compensation to employees at 2007 prices (£mill)

Total GDP at 2007 prices (£mill)

Per cent of UK economy paid to employees

1978

99,031

168,090

58.9

2007

754,422

1,384,823

54.7

- 4.2%

Source: UK Statistics Authority website

- The TUC is urging people to sign up to the Community Day campaign and has produced a new leaflet and poster to put up in offices, schools and hall notice boards. To download the leaflet for free, or to find out more about the Community Day campaign, go to www.communityday.org.uk

- All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk

- Register for the TUC's press extranet: a service exclusive to journalists wanting to access pre-embargo releases and reports from the TUC. Visit www.tuc.org.uk/pressextranet

Contacts:

Media enquiries:
Liz Chinchen T: 020 7467 1248 M: 07778 158175 E: media@tuc.org.uk
Rob Holdsworth T: 020 7467 1372 M: 07717 531150 E: rholdsworth@tuc.org.uk
Elly Brenchley T: 020 7467 1337 M: 07900 910624 E: ebrenchley@tuc.org.uk

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