Union petitions minister to make public holiday to celebrate women

A 10,000-strong petition calling for International Women’s Day to be made an additional bank holiday will be handed into Gerry Sutcliffe, minister for employment relations today.

Today is International Women’s Day 2005 and the Transport and General Workers Union (T&G) has put together the petition “as a way of improving the lives of all working people and demonstrating a real commitment to equality for women”.

The T&G said promises from the government to make paid bank holidays additional to the statutory four weeks’ annual holiday would benefit at least 2 million women and 1 million men.

Workers from numerous workplaces, including Sainsbury’s, Nestle and British Airways have signed the document.

Diana Holland, T&G national organiser for women, race and equalities, said: “Making International Women’s Day a public holiday is a great way to celebrate women’s achievements and to commit ourselves to ending discrimination against women.

“British workers do have the fewest bank holidays in the European Union and deserve to be brought into line with the rest of Europe – making International Women’s Day a public holiday would be a great start,” she said.

International Women’s Day began in 1909 following protests by American women workers in the textiles industry against sweatshops and child labour; was first celebrated in Europe in 1911 and for the first time in the UK in 1926.

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