Hard work deserves reward – need for new public holidays

Senator Marie Sherlock
27 September 2021

Reiterating Labour’s call for the introduction of two new public holidays, employment spokesperson Marie Sherlock said it would be a no brainer for workers, families and the economy. Highlighting the changing nature of work post pandemic, Senator Sherlock said we need to ensure that work always pays and introduce a living wage without delay.

Senator Sherlock said:

“Ireland currently has less public holidays on average in the EU with only nine public holidays – the least number in Europe. May Day was the last public holiday to be introduced in Ireland in 1994 by Ruari Quinn in honour of Irish workers – it’s time that workers were rewarded again. There is no shortage of events we could celebrate – Bloomsday, a celebration of our rich literary heritage, St Brigid’s Day, a celebration of Ireland’s female pagan hero. It would be a no-brainer to give back to workers and increase the number of public holidays in Ireland.

“When we look at the legacy of the pandemic, tourism and the arts are two of the sectors that will take the longest to recover, and additional public holidays would be a huge boost to these. Additional public holidays generate additional economic activity. For instance, the Cork Jazz Festival and the Dublin City Marathon – both now of huge economic importance to their respective cities – grew out of the October bank holiday introduced in the 1970s.

“Extra public holidays are just one way of improving life for workers in Ireland, we also need to have a wider conversation about the Living Wage in Ireland. The pandemic has shown the true value of people’s work so we need to ensure that work always pays. We have a real problem with low pay in this country affecting nearly 1 in 4 workers who earn less than two-thirds of median hourly earnings. Too many families struggle, relying on supports such as the Working Family Payment to make ends meet. I welcome the Tánaiste’s remarks that he too would like to see a living wage introduced – but this must be truly reflective of the cost of living in Ireland today.

“Despite the strong case for movement in this area, the government has persistently refused to accede on the request for additional holidays. We all benefit when we have time to be with our families and loved ones, time to contribute to our communities, time to enjoy the fruits of our hard work. Over the next five years we should reach the situation where there is at least one public holiday for each month.”

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