Union advises firms to make World Cup contingency plans

Union
GMB says England workers will be forced to ‘bunk it for Beckham" during
this summer’s World Cup campaign, after its survey revealed that only 1 in 4
companies are making special preparations to give staff time off to watch
matches.

The
survey of GMB members in 200 firms nationwide, found that only 23 per cent of
workers had been told their firms were granting special time off, or making
special arrangements for viewing of England’s crunch first round qualifiers
against Argentina and Nigeria on June 7 and 12.

But
an additional 31 per cent of members said their employers were still
considering whether to make special plans for the games.

Last
week Trade & Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt backed the GMB campaign for
companies to make contingency plans to prevent the tournament impacting on
business. During the last World Cup absentee rates for some England matches
were as high as 70 per cent, and cost the UK economy almost £400 million in
lost business.

GMB
General Secretary John Edmonds said: "We are worried that many companies
are just sticking their heads in the sand and hoping that the World Cup will
simply go away.

"The
reality is that when England are playing, Michael Owen and Joe Cole are going
to be a much bigger draw than the office or the factory floor. If companies
don’t make sensible arrangements then they are running the risk of waking up on
the morning of the Argentina match to find three-quarters of their staff
bunking it for Beckham."

By Quentin Reade

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