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Minister washes his hands of Easter trading

20 March 2008

Minister washes his hands of Easter trading responsibilities

The Labour Minister needs to protect the right of workers to spend Easter Sunday with their families, Sue Bradford, Green Party Spokesperson on Employment Relations says.

"I am very disappointed that the Minister has washed his hands of an issue that is so important to many New Zealand workers and their families.

"As the Minister himself has admitted in Parliament, the current Easter trading legislation does not adequately protect workers' rights to spend their public holiday with family or friends. A maximum fine of $1000 is not enough to stop traders from opening illegally," Ms Bradford says.

"This is not a minor breach of trading hours; it is depriving people of time with their families and undermining a shared holiday that helps make our communities healthy. It is also completely unfair for other shop keepers who do abide by the law.

"The Department of Labour should be given the legal power to close for the day businesses which choose to break the law, rather than just fine them as they currently do.

"It is not enough for the Minister to suggest there is no consensus on the issue and thus nothing should be done. Public holidays are not just a day when shops shut. They are a time for families and communities to be together.

"If the Minister believes, as is the current law, that people should not have to work on Easter Sunday then he should act to make sure that workers rights are protected."

ENDS

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