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10 April 2012
The Queen has been asked to intervene so that thousands of NHS employees can fully enjoy her Diamond Jubilee on Tuesday, 5 June.
Although the government has declared 5 June a public holiday, many NHS employers in England will be regarding the day as a normal working day with staff not being paid the public holiday rates.
This will mirror the actions of many trusts in England when they adopted the same hardline stance for last year's marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton and treated the day as a normal working day.
In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, NHS employers have decreed that staff will be get an extra's day holiday, but the pay will be at the normal rates.
Unite, the largest union in the country, said that the Diamond Jubilee was taking place against a backcloth where more than one million NHS employees had taken serious cuts to their pay in real terms; were being forced to pay more for their pensions and receive less on retirement; and experiencing an erosion of terms and conditions, as the health service was being softened up for privatisation.
In a letter to the Queen, Unite's head of health, Rachael Maskell said: “I am asking if you could make an intervention to ensure that hard working NHS staff in England will be afforded the opportunity, with the rest of the nation, to celebrate Your Majesty's Diamond Jubilee.
“And for those that have to provide cover to ensure patient safety and wellbeing of the sick receive the nationally agreed public holiday terms and conditions, as will all other public sector workers across the United Kingdom on 5 June 2012.
“Employers across the UK are refusing to pay staff, who have to work within the service on this public holiday, the normal enhanced rates due for public holiday working.”
Rachael Maskell said that many NHS workers in England have been refused the opportunity to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee since it has been left to local employers to determine that this special day should be treated as a normal working day.
Commenting on the letter, Rachael Maskell said: “NHS employers have raised mean-spiritedness to an art form - but they still have time to reverse their decision.
“It is highly ironic that the government has declared a public holiday to celebrate the Queen's 60 years on the throne, yet many NHS employers intend to blatantly flout the spirit of this once-in-a lifetime day that working people would like to enjoy.”