St Andrew's Day: A National Holiday
The UNISON Scotland Submission
To the Public Consultation on "St Andrew's Day: A National
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.
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
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
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
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
14, West Campbell Street,
Glasgow G2 6RX
Tel 0845 355 0845 Fax 0141 342 2835