From the TUC

A million Christmas workers

23 Dec 2016, By

The arrival of the festive season is a well-deserved break for most of us from a busy year. It’s a good excuse to put our feet up, relax, indulge in our favourite food and drinks and spend it with loved ones.

However, while so many of us will be tucking into our favourite Christmas lunches and pouring a glass of bubbly – there are nearly a million people who will be working. Christmas workers include those in hospitality, care, transportation, security and more – keeping the rest of us going as we take a break.

The TUC is calling on employers to show some seasonal goodwill this year by paying staff what they deserve for foregoing the time with family and friends that the rest of us take for granted, and by offering them reasonable seasonal hours.

With the huge growth in insecure contracts, people too often have too little control over the hours they want to work, and schedules don’t take their needs into account, making it hard to plan personal and family life. Unions have made progress at a number of scrooge employers this year, but there’s lots more to do in 2017.

The festive season is also often a difficult one for our emergency services. Last year’s Christmas floods saw us relying heavily on our rescue workers, and a combination of weather conditions and new year’s revelry sees our ambulances and hospitals regularly called upon.

Many of the emergency workers who’ll be on call over the break though have seen a significant fall in their pay in the last 5 years. TUC analysis shows that police officers, fire fighters and nurses have seen their real wages drop since 2011. Nurses have dropped by £1400, doctors and other medical practitioners are down by £3800.

Pay is a big issue for other groups of workers too, with the current incomes squeeze already the longest on record, but emergency workers have been hit in particular by the government’s public sector pay cap policy. This has meant their pay rises have lagged further behind private sector workers (and inflation) every year.

So spare a thought for all those who are working on Christmas Day and bank holidays – keeping the country ticking over and safe while the rest of us enjoy the holiday.