The best reason I heard over Easter for repealing the shop trading restrictions, is it would deprive Newmarket Business Association CEO Cameron Brewer of a media opportunity!
In Wellington, the restrictions have little impact. Cafes are open. Restaurants are open. You can go to the movies. Lots of food on sale at dairies and garages. Bars are open. It is only a few retailers that are affected, and a bunch of them just open anyway and see the $1,000 fine as a cost of doing business.
Anyway Brian Rudman points out the silliness of the current laws:
On Good Friday and Easter Sunday it was perfectly legal for me to drive across town to the Royal Easter Show, gorge myself ill on candyfloss, and gamble away my money on such so-called games of skill as “Pluck a Duck” and “Flip a Frog”.
But woe betide the supermarket which dared open its doors to sell me a toilet – or bread – roll.
Once again we’ve been through the time that transcends all understanding, the annual Easter trading laws fiasco.
The two days a year when a weekend market on Wellington’s harbourside can open, but a farmers’ market in Hamilton is threatened with a fine of up to $1000 for each stall that opens.
A time when Parnell and Queenstown shops could open, but not their competitors in neighbouring Newmarket and Wanaka.
The law is a mess as it does not in fact help staff have an Easter break with their families, because Easter Saturday and Easter Monday are normal trading days.
And bizarrely if you do work Easter Sunday, it is not a public holiday, so you get paid nothing extra.
The status quo is in fact quite anti-worker. The unions resist any changes mainly because in some regards they are very conservative beats, that resist most changes.
Here’s what I would propose to get same sane laws over Easter:
- Declare all four days to be public holidays – Good Friday, Easter Saturday, Ester Day and Easter Monday.
- Law states no employee (except essential services) can be forced to work any of the four Easter days.
- No restrictions on any store opening
- If a store does not open, Any staff normally rostered on for those days of the week, get paid a normal days wages – as for all other public holidays
- If a store does open, staff who choose to work get penal rates (generally time and a half) and a day in lieu
This proposal is extremely generous to employees. It gives them two extra days of public holidays, gives them the right to choose to work on all four days (as the moment they have no choice if a store opens), and gives then public holiday pay rates on all four Easter days.
An employee who chooses to work on the four Easter days, would get effectively paid for 10 days – two weeks of income for four days work.