The Government has announced that we will all have a day off to commemorate the life of Queen Elisabeth.
This seems rational. As a Irish Catholic Republican I will spend the day thinking about other things but the concept, giving workers a day off to acknowledge a significant event, is not a bad one. Perhaps the Government could also think about changing the Queen’s Birthday annual holiday into something more locally appropriate, like two days off on Labour Weekend.
Some of the opposition takes have been spectacularly bad. Like ACT who thinks that employers paying workers to take a day off will somehow make the cost of living crisis worse.
ACT leader David Seymour said a public holiday would “definitely not” be backed by his party.
“We have a cost of living crisis, and Treasury estimates an extra public holiday would cost $450 million,” he told Newshub.
“We doubt the Queen, who was famous for being a careful spender, would endorse such extravagance when people are struggling to make ends meet.”
Seymour’s representation of Treasury’s view is clearly wrong. It thought that although the cost of a Friday holiday would be $443.5 million it thought the benefits would be between $310 million and $469 million, leaving open the possibility that holidays may provide a net benefit to businesses.
But if holidays are bad they are bad for employers, not workers, especially those struggling to make ends meet. For one day they will not need to worry about transport costs or buying take out food.
Act’s insistence shows a disturbing acceptance of trickle down, that getting employers to pay workers more makes workers worse off.
And National, predictably, have come out in support. Anything to do with the Monarchy gets an automatic tick from them. It was not that long ago that Christopher Luxon proposed the axing of Labour Day on the basis of cost. Now because we are celebrating the death of the Queen they are all for it.