NEWS

Public holidays are being targeted

It seems like ages since 1995, when Danish workers went on a successful national strike demanding an extra week – a seventh – of annual holiday leave. Danish labor unions claimed that it was not an increase in pay that they were after, but mainly more free time. In the past few years though, holiday leave and days off have become targeted and blamed for a drop in production growth rates. In these terms, in the Asian production model, which surely wins the admiration of many a business executive in Europe or the USA, regular days off are entirely insufficient. According to data by the consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, workers in Hong Kong get just eight days off a year. In Indonesia, they get 11, and in Taiwan 13. In parts of the USA and Canada, these numbers are not much better. For example, in Los Angeles they do not exceed 11, and in Toronto 14. Public holidays, a much-anticipated break for many workers, have also been put in the firing range recently. In Germany, the Schroeder government announced last year that it would scrap the November 3 holiday celebrating German unification. The motive was not political, but financial. But how many public holidays are there in a year anyway? For most countries, public holidays comprise 10 days in a year. In France there are 11 public holidays and in the USA 10, though many businesses do not close for them. In Greece, there are 11 public holidays per year, not counting holidays celebrated in certain regions of the country or professional sectors.