Although access to holidays has increased in the last decade, new research by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) shows that 28% of people in Europe still can’t afford one.
The research shows that approximately 35 million Europeans are currently unable to pay for a one-week holiday away from home. This includes more than half of all low-income workers.
Italy had the highest number of people in this category at around 7 million. This was followed by Spain (4.7 million), Germany (4.3 million), France (3.6 million), and Poland (3.1 million).
The report also shows that 59.5% of people whose income is below the “at risk of poverty” threshold – which is set at 60% of the national median equivalised disposable income – couldn’t afford to go on holiday.
Many of those in the “at risk of poverty” group are retired, disabled, or unemployed. However, a growing number are low paid workers earning the statutory minimum wage.
The country with the highest proportion of those at risk of poverty and not being able to afford a break was Greece, at 88.9%. This was followed by Romania (86.8%), Croatia (84.7%), Cyprus (79.2%), and Slovakia (76.1%).
In addition to this, data held by Eurostat indicates that, over the last ten years, holiday inequality has grown in 16 member states between those on low and higher incomes. This shows how the economic benefits haven’t been equally felt.
The biggest divides are currently found in Greece, Bulgaria, France, Czechia, and Croatia. However, other EU countries have seen a widening gap economically, too.
At the moment, 21 member states have statutory minimum wages. The other six – Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Italy, and Sweden – have wages determined through collective bargaining.
One of the priorities of the European Trade Union Confederation is to work with member states to ensure minimum wages are high enough – ideally, not less than 60% of the median wages.
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