TUC argues for 'Community Day'

The TUC wants another bank holiday. The Government doesn't. Guess who's going to win?

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

With the roads filling up and rain forecast, it can only mean one thing: the August bank holiday is upon us. The BBC reports that a record 2m people are so excited by the prospect of spending a long weekend in Britain that they’ve booked flights to sunnier climes, with almost a million people flying out of London alone (the weather forecast isn’t actually that bad, but you can’t blame people for being sceptical).

But after this weekend, it’s nearly four whole months until the next bank holiday (Christmas Day) and those hard-working types at the TUC clearly think this is positively inhuman. The union group wants the Government to introduce a Community Day in late October to ‘celebrate and encourage volunteering and community activity’. It reckons that if just 10% of us volunteer on this day, the cumulative effect could be worth £250m (we have no idea how they’ve reached this figure, so you’ll have to take their word for it – or not, as the case may be), rising to £500m if people take up volunteering more regularly as a result.

The TUC is even claiming that the extra day off will be good for the economy, on the grounds that it will encourage people to spend money on holidays and short breaks. It also reckons it will increase our number of ‘days out’, which are already worth about £90bn to the economy every year. The union’s theory is that this will benefit the myriad consumer-facing businesses – from retailers to hoteliers to transport groups – that now account for about a fifth of the UK’s 5m companies. 

‘A new bank holiday would be very popular for Britain's workers, who have fewer public holidays than anyone else in Europe except Romania,’ said TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber, with admirable attention to detail (why do the Romanians get such a good gig?). He suggested that businesses have so far ‘stuck to their usual position of opposing anything that benefits staff’, but urged them to ‘think outside the box and recognise the benefits.’

Unfortunately the Government begs to differ; it pointed out that it can’t agree to all the new bank holiday requests it gets, and suggested there were better ways for people to improve their work/ life balance. It didn’t specifically mention the corresponding effect on productivity and GDP, but we imagine that it probably occurred to them. 

Boosting volunteer numbers is an admirable aim, but we’re a bit sceptical this is the best way of doing it. It’ll probably just mean another weekend spent sitting in traffic jams on the M1...

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