One of the most eye catching election promises in 2005 was Labour’s promise to give people extra days off on holiday. According to the Labour Party document on the Warwick Agreement, the deal was that “Bank holidays cannot be counted in four weeks statutory holiday”. This would mean that those workers whose bosses count bank holidays towards the four weeks would automatically get an extra eight days holiday per year. The promise formed a central part of the unions’ election campaigning in 2005, with all the main Labour affiliated unions mentioning it prominently in materials sent to members before the election.
However, this is a policy that still hasn’t been introduced, and the government recently decided to launch a consultation on the proposal. Now, recently writing for the GMB website, Hazel Blears has set some alarm bells ringing. She wrote:
“The consultation proposes that the first extra holiday will come in on October 1st 2007 with the rest to follow which will benefit over 2 million workers.”
The full consultation document is available here, and it confirms that the introduction of fair holiday entitlements will be phased in. The Government says it wants to “give time for businesses to adjust” – but in effect, they are leaving people having bank holidays nicked off them by stingy employers a full two-and-a-half years after the general election.
Trade unions, especially the GMB and T&G, are taking this issue very seriously, and several senior TU officials have told The Daily that they will struggle to mobilise union activists to campaign for the party at the next election unless this pledge is delivered. We have eight days to win the next election, and we shouldn’t let the business lobby and government timidity stop us.