May Day 2012
The coming May Day bank holiday will be the 34th since it was introduced way back in in 1978. In those far-off days of Government incomes policies, the TUC had a series of meetings with the Government in 1977 to discuss introducing the new bank holiday as part of the quid pro quo (I have the minutes). This followed on our previous success in getting New Years Day established as a bank holiday (1974).
Let’s get out there and enjoy this holiday, which we richly deserve. Perhaps the weather may not be the best ever, but if we are going to get depressed by the odd shower then we are probably living in the wrong country. There are plenty of things that we could this weekend indoors and outdoors, including visiting a number of local trade union festivals (this is not just being “worthy”, the one taking place in Dorchester on Sunday afternoon is basically a mini rock festival) – and more traditional May Day events.
Turning back to those 1970s negotiations for a moment , one part of the May Day deal that has largely become lost in the mists of history was that 1978 was the first year when compensatory days were given when the Christmas and boxing day bank holidays fell at the weekend. This was an important gain for working people. I can recall being quite disappointed soon after I started work when we knocked off on Friday on Christmas Eve and clocked on again at 8 pm on Monday morning. For those who are not abstemious, imagine having to get up at 6.30 AM after boxing day!
Because we are human our efforts at work will always ebb and flow. The restorative effect of time off helps to explain why the extra bank holidays of the 1970s had no measurable effect whatsoever on the UK economy.