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Millions of Europeans unable to afford a week's holiday, says trade union

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By Pedro Sacadura
People cool off in a swimming pool in Lyon, central France, Wednesday, July 13, 2022.
People cool off in a swimming pool in Lyon, central France, Wednesday, July 13, 2022.   -   Copyright  Laurent Cipriani/The Associated Press   -  

Over 38 million European citizens are unable to afford one week's holiday, according to Europe's largest trade union.

A study carried out by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) found that in 2020, 38 million people - 8% of the EU's population - had to skip taking a vacation.

Romanians, Greeks and Lithuanians were the worst hit, with more than 40% of the population affected, while in Austria, Denmark and Finland only around 7% could not afford holidays.

ETUC deputy general secretary, Esther Lynch, told Euronews that better working conditions are needed now to avoid a winter of discontent.

"There's a real fear among workers about making ends meet, in terms of rent, in terms of food and the basics, such as being able to afford a holiday with your family aren't there," she said.

"And this has a wider impact not just on the worker, but also on their family and society...What's really important to understand is that workers are very frustrated and that frustration will find its way onto the streets and is going to find its way into political decision making."

For Ismael Albai - a Belgian father of four - plans for a getaway this summer were watered down by soaring bills and less money in the bank.

He explained to Euronews that a local swimming pool in Brussels is the closest he and his family will get to a holiday this year.

"This year is a bit tighter in terms of budget. Holidays are getting more and more expensive and to leave on holidays I would need at least €5000, minimum," Ismael said. "Before, we used to go on holiday every year, but lately we only go on holiday once every two or three years."

With inflation and bills continuing to rise at a worrying rate, the ETUC says things are only going to get worse for average European citizens unless action is taken soon.