A busman’s holiday comes from the 1890s when bus drivers had to get on a bus to go on holiday. It’s come to mean anyone doing the sort of work they’re usually paid for when they’re on leave, and we’ve come across a great example from today’s Europe-wide day of action against austerity.
USDAW official – and TUC General Councillor – Fiona Wilson is on well-deserved annual leave this week, but she hasn’t let that stop her joining in the ETUC protest. She and her husband tracked down the CGTP demonstration this morning in central Funchal on the Portuguese island of Madeira. Even though the town has a population of only just over 100,000 there were a thousand trade unionists involved.
“After a rally and speeches from local union leaders we marched through Funchal to the local Government offices and then the march continued along the sea front and back into the centre of Funchal. The CGTP were well organised and supported by the local Madeiran trade union branches and the rally and march were covered by local press and TV.
“We managed to speak to some of those attending to pass on our message of solidarity. The main concerns of those we spoke to were increasing taxation and the reduction in wages of Government employees. Exactly the same concerns we all have in the UK. We were made very welcome and given stickers and flags so we could join in.
“Whilst the march and rally was not on the same scale as the TUC’s march last month in London, the concerns of those taking part were just the same. Having been a deputy chief steward at the TUC march in October it was nice to participate in a further protest against austerity and to stand in solidarity with trade unionists from Funchal.”
Although British trade unionists were present at the Belgian trade union movement’s rally in Brussels and the French trade union protests in Paris, I think Fiona wins the prize for going furthest to demonstrate against austerity. Unless – as they used to say on Esther Rantzen’s BBC show That’s Life – you know better?