The Dom Post editorial:
National MP Tau Henare’s plan for a private member’s bill allowing shops to open on Good Friday and Easter Sunday will be the ninth attempt in 15 years to bring some sense to trading laws long past their sell-by date.
This time, Parliament should seize the opportunity to repeal rules which are archaic and riddled with anomalies to the point of being ridiculous.
However, there is little to indicate the Government will have the courage to lead the way.
If history is anything to go by, Mr Henare’s bill will be considered as a conscience vote and fail at its first hurdle, defeated by the usual – and unusual – alliance of Labour, National and Green MPs. Those who vote against it will do so on the grounds of guarding workers’ rights or protecting the sanctity of the most important festival in the Christian calendar – or, in some cases, both.
The unholy alliance of unions and churches.
The list of anomalies is as laughable as it is long. A person can buy or sell a house on Good Friday or Easter Sunday, when real estate agents are allowed to open, but they cannot buy a bottle of bubbly to celebrate – unless they get it from the vineyard on which it was made.
A garden centre can open on Easter Sunday, but not Good Friday – a rule ignored by many as the huge demand easily brings in more than the $1000 fine. Bookstores at airports, train stations and other transport hubs can open, but those in shopping centres must stay closed. Perhaps most glaringly of all, brothels can open on Good Friday and Easter Sunday to sell sex, but those with bars are breaking the law if they sell alcohol.
It is hilarious that brothels can open, but not bars. I wonder if the brothels can sell alcohol?
The usual suspects defend their decisions to ban employees from earning overtime on those days, on the proposition that employers are so evil and callousthey they will break the law and force employees to work against their wills.
On Twitter the other day I asked a Labour activist if he could name a single employer that has done this. I said I’ve worked for around 20 employers and none forced me to work against my will. He also was unable to name a single employer – saying none of his former employers had. But he insisted that it was widespread all the same. Never mind the lack of emperical evidence.
But this got me thinking. Wouldn’t it be useful if the Government or Dept of Labour did a random scientific survey of employees in retailers, to ascertain how many currently have employers who force them to work on days they don’t want to, and also perhaps to look at annual leave taking – do they get to choose when to take annual leave, or does their employer over-ride their wishes.
It would be a great boon to informed debate to have some good data about how employees and employers currently interact.Tags: Dominion Post, Easter, editorials, shop trading hours