The leftward and other blatherings of Span (now with Snaps!)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Rabbiting on

Yep it's Easter, which means the usual bleating about the restrictions on shop trading hours.*


Are we really that reliant on other people that we can't go two days, which aren't even consecutive, without buying stuff? And actually we can buy essential stuff, because petrol stations, dairies and pharmacies are allowed to open, but God forbid we have to go a day (or even two in the same week!) without being able to purchase a lounge suite or a nice yucca for the deck. Each year I am amazed that I cope without falling into a heap on the ground, stroking my wallet for solace whilst wailing ceaselessly at my short-lived inability to buy something that I don't actually need. And yet the world keeps turning.

Anyway, I'm sure I've ranted about this on Easters past, but what is new rant material is this odd practice of making (almost) everyone close on Easter Sunday but not providing for the workers who aren't allowed to work. Currently if you would normally work on Sunday but can't because of the shopping restrictions you don't get paid unless your boss decides they want to. Most, of course, don't.

It's a hang-over from the days when there was no Sunday trading at all (that's right folks, for many many years shops closed EVERY Sunday! Not just one a year!!). It didn't seem necessary at the time of the Holidays Act to think about what might happen to shop workers who normally worked the seventh day of the week, because there weren't any.

But now there are, and my solution to their problem is not to get rid of the shopping restrictions on Easter Sunday, but to instead include it in the public holiday schedule, in the same non-observed fashion as Waitangi Day. This would give people the much needed time with their families or to relax, but not mean they are out of pocket.

Public holidays, whether they have evolved from religious observance or not, should recognise that most workers have no choice about whether they work or not, as Carl succintly observes. These stats give those workers a break, and a day off, that their boss cannot deny them.

I hear that Labour might be looking for some legislation to fill the gaps in their agenda. Here's one idea. Plenty more where that came from too...



* I don't like the inconsistencies about "tourist" areas being able to open in some places and not others. However unlike DPF I'd prefer to see no exemptions (other than the ones already in place for necessities, which are universal around the country). When I travelled there were public holidays overseas too and you just deal with it. If public holidays bug tourists that much then they are going to arrange their travel to avoid them.

17 comments:

Craig Ranapia said...

Would someone care to explain to me what's such a "necessity" about being able to buy petrol?

Idiot/Savant said...

Snap! And down to the snark about the thin agenda too. Clearly great minds thinking alike.

Well, OK, maybe not entirely. I'm not that fussed about repealing the trading restrictions, but what's important is that people get their paid day off. Unfortunately I don't think it can be done within the scope of the bils currently before Parliament...

Span said...

Craig, I'm prepared to accept that petrol is a necessity - it gets you from A to B when you need to, particularly on a day when there is no public transport. I'd like to live in a future where it's not a necessity but right now it is, particularly in rural areas.

Span said...

The current bills are certainly more in the liberalise mode iirc, although Idsy you'd know more about that than I. I don't recall any that aren't focused on either wholesale ditching of the trading restrictions or getting rid of them for one particular geographic area or industry?

Span said...

And here's Idsy's snap, in case it doesn't come up on the trackback (for some reason I seem to have troubles with trackbacks, in both directions):
http://norightturn.blogspot.com/2007/04/obvious-solution.html

Anonymous said...

What sort of backwards place doesn't have public transport on holidays? Seriously? Less of it, sure, since there aren't as many people using it. But none?

Idiot/Savant said...

Span: Dean's bill was originally local pork for Wanaka, but its scope has been expanded by select committee to potentially include every local authority in the country (they'd amend the relevant schedule depending on what the local authorities say during the committee stage). The down side is that it has no worker protections. Chadwick's bill OTOH has proper protections for existing employees, as well as requiring local authorities to follow a vaguely democratic process in deciding whether to allow Easter Sunday trading or not - but only lifts the restrictions on Easter Sunday.

If a bill is going to pass, I'd prefer to see a combination of the two which lifted restrictions on Good Friday as well, while protecting workers and ensuring a democratic process. But even then, we'd still need a Holidays Amendment Bill to make Easter Sunday a stat.

Craig Ranapia said...

Span wrote:
Craig, I'm prepared to accept that petrol is a necessity - it gets you from A to B when you need to, particularly on a day when there is no public transport.

Hum... not taking your own argument particularly seriously, are you? So, folks aren't capable of getting organised and gassing up on Christmas Eve or Holy Thursday?

Oh, and where exactly do you live Span? Over on the North Shore, public transport ran on Friday, though on a reduced timetable. The driver I chatted to on my way to mass was rather nice atheist chap with no family who rather appreciated the overtime and day in lieu.

Span said...

Thanks for the detail on the bills I/S.

Craig - yes I live in Auckland, and yes there was public transport here, but I guess I was thinking of two factors:
1. rural areas where public transport might not be available
2. emergencies where you need to drive somewhere and would be totally poked if you ran out of petrol and couldn't get some.

Rich said...

Why should certain shopworkers get a day off and government shop inspectors, for instance, have to work? (or power workers, cops, nurses, IT operations staff, journalists, etc, etc..)

Surely the problem of employers not allowing people to have their choice of days off could be dealt with by specifically requiring that anyone giving reasonable notice was entitled to their choice of leave days. So Bob Marley fans could take his birthday off, etc (oh - that's already a holiday!)

Craig Ranapia said...

Oh, Span, and if you run into MAxine Gay... was seriously unimpressed by her performance on Close Up last night. Apparently if you're 'pro-family' you must be 'anti-liberalisation of trading hours'. Ye Gods, is she angling for a job with Destiny Church?

Span said...

Rich, I can imagine that retail stores would not be very keen on the idea that their workers could take leave whenever they chose, particularly as holiday weekends are often big sale times for retail, eg Boxing Day, Labour Weekend, Easter. It would be a double-edged sword for them. When I worked in retail we were not allowed any leave for the six weeks prior to Xmas.

As for the labour inspectors - I'd love for them to have the day off. If there weren't businesses who constantly insist on breaking the law then perhaps they could. Emergency workers have always had to work holidays, and most are only expected to provide a skeleton staff. I don't see why anyone else should have to though.

Span said...

Didn't see Maxine on telly Craig, so I have no idea what she said. But I have some sympathy for the argument that many workers don't have the ability to dictate to their boss when their leave will be, so public holidays are one time when they have an absolute right to say, nope I'm having that day off.

Craig Ranapia said...

If anyone else can find a link to the video on the TVNZ website, I'd appreciate it. But the minute someone starts calling their opponents 'anti-family', then my blood pressure tends to rise and my attention moves elsewhere.

And you know something, Span, if the NDU isn't informing its members (and indirectly all workers) of their legal rights and backing them up, then Maxine should be spending less time trying to shout over Jacqui Dean on live television and asking herself exactly what her organisation is for.

Heine said...

I'm not too worried, the rest of the world have more liberalised and easy going laws regarding these days off. We will in due course become civilised and get in line sooner rather than later.

I quite enjoyed being able to continue with my daily routine without being told I was allowed to buy sex but not a lounge suite :)

Anarchy said...

Most of the countries I've visited while they celebrate public holidays completely shut down. Ever been in the Gold Coast on Australia Day? Oz's tourist mecca and the supermarkets are closed. This countrys retail trading hours are at an unhealthy extreme.

Span said...

On my overseas travels last year I ran into quite a few public holidays, and almost everything would be closed. We were a bit worried about how we would fare over Easter, travelling through Greece and then Italy, so we deliberately timed it to be in Greece for Catholic Easter (same dates as here) and take the ferry to Italy in time to avoid Orthodox Easter (a week later) in Greece. It worked a treat, although trying to get to Naples on Easter Monday in Italy was a bit of a mission as almost everything was closed.