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St Andrew's Day: A National Holiday

The UNISON Scotland Submission
To the Public Consultation on "St Andrew's Day: A National Holiday"

October 2004


This paper constitutes UNISON Scotland's response to the consultation by Dennis Canavan MSP on his private members bill on ‘St Andrew's Day: A National Holiday'.

UNISON is Scotland's largest trade union representing around 150,000 members working in the public sector in Scotland.

UNISON Scotland welcomes the opportunity to respond to this consultation exercise.

Consultation Questions

Each of the questions posed in the consultation paper is reproduced below along with the UNISON Scotland response.


1. What would be the benefits of establishing a St Andrew's Day Bank Holiday in Scotland?

Scotland, along with England and Wales, has the lowest number of public holidays in the EU with a figure of only 8 whereas the maximum is 15 days and the average is 12 days. Introducing a new bank holiday helps bring Scotland closer to the EU average. This would have benefits to employees who already suffer from some of the longest working hours in Europe.


2. What are the problems, if any, that might arise from establishing a St Andrew's Day Bank Holiday in Scotland?

There may be some opposition from businesses to establishing this holiday in Scotland either through a complaint about loss of competitive advantage or through having different bank holidays than the rest of the UK. However as this would be a national holiday and the majority of companies in Scotland would be expected to participate this would limit any fears of a loss of competitive advantage. Also there are already different bank holidays across the UK - with Northern Ireland actually having two more bank holidays than everyone else, so this should not have a serious impact on the Scottish economy in itself.


3. How do you think that St Andrew's Day could become a day of national celebration of Scotland's diversity of cultures, faiths and ethnic origins?

As mentioned in the consultation paper, St Andrew was not a Scot himself and this could be used to highlight the inclusiveness of the Scottish nation. The STUC already mark St Andrews day with a march and rally against fascism and racism - this could be further enhanced with a national holiday to highlight such issues as well as using the holiday to promote Scottish tourism.


4. What impact, if any, would there be on the Scottish economy if a St Andrew's Day Bank Holiday were established in Scotland?

There would be a positive impact on having a national holiday concentrating on Scotland as a nation. However a day concentrating on Scotland's past and future would help to galvanise the nation as seen in the recent opening ceremony for the new Scottish Parliament building. This would be beneficial to the tourist industry as a means of promoting Scotland not only abroad but also at home. If combined with holding the holiday on either a Friday or Monday to produce a long weekend, this could encourage Scots to take short breaks within the country at a time of the year when the tourist industry is usually quiet.

In providing employees an extra days holiday this will help reduce the stress-related illness of working long hours and could provide a positive benefit to Scottish business.


5. What alternative arrangements, if any, should be made if a St Andrew's Day Bank Holiday is established but the 30th of November falls on a Saturday or a Sunday?

6. Would there be any benefits in always having the St Andrew's Day Bank Holiday on the Monday or Friday closest to the 30th of November (rather than always adhering to the specific date of the 30th of November)?

As questions 5 and 6 are closely related the UNISON response below applies to both questions.

As mentioned above there is a positive case to be made about holding the holiday on the closest Monday or Friday to St Andrews Day. Not only would there be the benefits to the tourist industry as mentioned above but a regular fixed date would be easier for businesses to plan into their working year and would limit any possible economic problems that such a holiday may impose.

However as a number of existing bank holidays tend to fall on a Monday there may be a case for holding St Andrew's Day Bank Holiday on a Friday.

For further information please contact:

Matt Smith, Scottish Secretary
UNISON Scotland
14, West Campbell Street,
Glasgow G2 6RX
Tel 0845 355 0845 Fax 0141 342 2835
e-mail matt.smith@unison.co.uk



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