Fact Service June 2011

Issue 24

Keep May Day — TUC

The TUC has warned against moving the May Day bank holiday in its submission to the government’s pre-consultation on moving it as part of a domestic tourism strategy.

The TUC says that May Day has marked International Workers’ Day since 1891, although it has only been a bank holiday since 1978 — a bone of contention for some Conservative MPs.

May Day is associated with a large number of tourism-related events, including many outdoor activities across the UK due to the (generally) good weather, and is the busiest trading day of the year for garden centres and horticulture related businesses.

The TUC submission warns that moving May Day to late autumn could threaten many of these activities. Instead it calls for an extra holiday sometime in October to make up for the UK’s stingy allocation of public holidays.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "Ministers would be wise not to mess around with a popular public holiday that enjoys a wide range of support. Instead, they should examine the wellbeing and ‘big society’ benefits of creating a new bank holiday.

“Given that UK employees work some of the longest hours in Europe and have the least bank holidays, an extra public holiday is long overdue.