Employment protection for donkeys

May 12 2005 by Brian Amble Print This Article

There is one group of workers for whom working time regulations will be almost universally welcomed – because they are willing, docile, good with children, have four legs and cannot make the choice of how many hours they are made to work.

The donkeys who work in the British seaside resort of Blackpool carrying tourists for rides along the beach are getting their own form of employment protection after the local council introduced rules entitling them to work only from 10am until 7pm with an hour off for lunch and a day off every Friday.

The resort employs some 200 donkeys and the 40 horses that pull landaus along the sea-front.

"All the regulations have been put in place to ensure these animals are cared for as best we can," a council spokeswoman said.

"Some people might think it is quite a hard day on the beach with no break on a busy day. It is an important part of our tourism business. We want the donkeys to be happy and healthy."

The Council will also make regular check-ups all summer to make sure the animals are well cared for, and is introducing an annual health inspection when vets will check their hooves, ears, teeth and coats.

But the spokeswoman also claimed- perhaps unconvincingly – that the news had nothing to do with the action of that other group of donkeys in the European Parliament who yesterday voted to remove the right of Britain's human workers to decide how long they spend on the job.

But perhaps it is also a sign of the times that Blackpool's favourite four legged workhorses have not won the same rights as working elephants in the Indian state of Kerala.

In 2003, the Keralan authorities granted full retirement benefits to its elephants when they reached the age of 65, insisting that they be allowed to retire with good food, healthcare and dignified living conditions - which is a better deal than many of Britain's pensions can expect in future.