The union representing retail workers is warning that the Government is out of touch with working people after passing the second reading of the Shop Trading Hours Amendment Bill, a law handing local authorities the power to permit trading on Easter Sunday.
‘New Zealanders are only guaranteed three and a half days off each year. We should protect that, not reduce it,’ said FIRST Union Retail and Finance Secretary Maxine Gay.
‘I know an elderly couple, both of whom are retail workers, who barely ever see each other on weekends because they’re rostered on for work. But Easter Sunday is one of the few days in the year where they can say to each other let’s spend the weekend together, let’s look after our grandchildren and let’s get out in the community.’
‘But the Government’s Bill means they’re going to lose that day off and Easter Sunday will become another work day,’ said Gay.
In the second reading debate on Tuesday night Green MP Denise Roche sought leave to table a 5000-strong petition calling on United Future leader Peter Dunne and Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell to protect Easter Sunday as a day off work and vote against the Bill.
The Government blocked the petition.
‘Workplace Relations Minister Michael Woodhouse is saying working people can refuse to work on Easter Sunday, but we know from bitter experience that there are consequences to saying no. People might find their hours reduced or those on a 90 day trial period might find themselves out of the job on day 89.’
‘This Government isn’t showing leadership. Instead of a consistent law on Easter trading we’re going to have different policies across the country. There’s no certainty for working people in that.’
Gay says that FIRST Union and its 27,000 members are calling on Maori Party co-leader and United Future leader Peter Dunne to side with working people and vote against the Bill at its third reading.