By Claire West

Commenting on government proposals to cancel the May Day bank holiday and replace it with a UK Day in October, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'There is strong support for an extra public holiday as the UK has the stingiest allocation in Europe.

"But the last thing we need is for the government to mess around with established bank holidays that workers and businesses have built their schedules around.

"A few Tory backwoodsmen have a bee in their bonnet about the May Day bank holiday because of its association with international labour day. In fact May Day is a traditional British celebration dating back to the fourth century.

"The government would do well to rise above this backbench grudge, put the needs of employers and their staff first, and scrap the idea altogether."