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Ireland needs more bank holidays 'to bring us up to the EU standard'

A TD says Ireland needs more bank holidays, regardless of any benefits to those who worked throug...
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

18.51 24 Sep 2021


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Ireland needs more bank holida...

Ireland needs more bank holidays 'to bring us up to the EU standard'

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

18.51 24 Sep 2021


Share this article


A TD says Ireland needs more bank holidays, regardless of any benefits to those who worked through the pandemic.

It comes as Minister Heather Humphreys says frontline workers beyond healthcare staff should benefit from any pandemic bonus in the budget.

A number of things are being considered including extra pay, more holidays or an extra bank holiday.

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However, the Government has yet to decide who will be considered frontline workers for any benefits.

Dublin People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith told The Hard Shoulder Ireland is making things unnecessarily difficult.

"I think we should see moves towards extra bank holidays in particular - not just as a compensation for COVID, but rather to bring Ireland up to the average standard across the European Union.

"Most countries in the European Union have 12 annual bank holidays, we have nine.

"We put in a bill in July that would increase the annual bank holidays to bring us up to the European average, so in other words an extra three.

"And the Government are now proposing an extra one, so I think there's huge validation in arguing for more".

Deputy Smith says Irish workers are also among the most productive in the OCED, but have the one of the least annual holidays.

"Our statutory holidays are around 21 days, in Britain it's 28 - and we have one of the lowest levels of bank holidays".

She says this should be considered separately to any COVID-19 bonus.

"I think that's kind of separate to the compensation that should go to the frontline workers for putting up with COVID."

And she adds: "I'm always very interested and slightly amused why Northern Ireland had no difficulty giving frontline workers an extra stg£500 - and France has done something similar.

"But we always seem to find it really, really difficult."

And she says we need to be practical about who gets what.

"I'm asking people to look at it very, very practically - the real frontline workers who were facing the threat on a daily basis were the cleaners, the porters, the nurses, the doctors, the radiographers, the physiotherapists who had to go in to the health services every day.

"They've been compensated in other countries - why do we make mountains out of molehills?

"I honestly think it's a modus operandi by the Government to try and divide and rule.

"Let's deal with that, and then let's come back to the bus drivers and to the shop workers".

While the INMO says healthcare workers should be rewarded in addition to any national 'pandemic bonus'.

Its director of industrial relations, Tony Fitzpatrick, earlier told Newstalk Breakfast healthcare workers still deserve "special recognition" - similar to what has happened in other jurisdictions.

He said healthcare workers are still "running on fumes" due to the intensity and traumatic nature of their work during the pandemic.

"We've tried to engage with the HSE since last November - they've been dilly-dallying.

"The Government has been dilly-dallying - now it’s blowing up in their face as they come up to the budget", he said.

And the Fórsa union has said it is "willing to negotiate" over the issue - saying their Labour Court claim did not demand a specified amount of bonus leave or payments.

It comes after the HSE told the Labour Court 10 days bonus leave for healthcare workers would cost more than €350m.

The HSE has suggested it could be possible the "the single most costly claim ever served on a single employer".

There are also concerns other public sector workers would want the same reward.

Ireland needs more bank holidays 'to bring us up to the EU standard'

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

    

Main image: Brid Smith speaking to the media outside Leinster House in May 2020. Picture by: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

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Bríd Smith Extra Bank Holiday Heather Humphreys Holidays Ireland The Hard Shoulder

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