No no, Yvette. Banks don’t need holidays

July 28, 2009

Just what we need to make British industry more competitive – another public holiday. Today’s FT has a front-page story which doesn’t read like a spoof, reporting that Yvette Cooper, who labours under the title of Work and Pensions Secretary, wants to give the workers another free day off.

Apparently she favours a Bank Holiday to commemorate those who die in the workplace. This may be jolly worthy, but it’s hardly a cause for celebration. Besides, the toll, at 160 last year, is far down the death league, and a tiny fraction of what the health’n'safety lobby always calls “the carnage on Britain’s roads”. Hasn’t the silly woman noticed that encouraging millions of motorists to drive to the nearest traffic jam is not the best way to cut the death toll?

Besides, banks don’t need holidays. Workers do, and are free to negotiate time off, paid or unpaid. Unfortunately, the chance to impose a popular measure whose cost will fall on others is almost a definition of what makes a politician.

Cooper is merely seeking a diversion from the inconvenient truth that fewer are in work and that pensions are a disaster. With luck, she’ll be out of office before she has the chance to do further damage with this loopy idea.

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