Monday 10 March 2008
Australia Orders Bunnings U-Turn – Shops to Close on Easter Sunday
A u-turn by Bunnings means its giant warehouses will not be open on Easter Sunday, says the Bunnings workers’ union, the National Distribution Union.
“This is a victory for Bunnings workers who led the charge last year against two bills that would have lifted the restrictions on Easter trading,” says NDU National Secretary, Laila Harré.
“After opening in blatant disregard of the law for the last couple of Easters, Bunnings has had to pull its head in after union members petitioned the Australian Government about the company’s disregard of local trading laws.
“The Australian Government is bound by the OECD Guideline on Multinational Companies and Bunnings has been in clear breach of the obligation to follow domestic laws,” says Laila Harré.
Workers have been told that the order not to trade this year has come from Australia.
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this decision has been made now. On 21 February a delegation of union workers from Bunnings presented a letter for Australian PM Rudd to the Australian High Commission in Wellington. That letter referred to various breaches by Bunnings of employment and shop trading laws.
“Tomorrow the company will be asked to comply with other employment laws as we go into mediation to settle a long-running pay dispute. For months Bunnings has been refusing to negotiate on the wages of existing workers in collective bargaining with the union. It has only been prepared to commit itself to the new $12 minimum wage for new employees, and no reference to pay for existing staff as part of a first-time collective agreement. Workers who took part in lawful stop work meetings have unlawfully had all or some of their pay docked. And the company has been doing everything it can to undermine the union as it tries to defend its low wages,” said Laila Harré.
Meanwhile the union says that locally owned companies have no excuse to break Easter trading laws either.
“We are aware of some Pak ’n Save and New World stores in New Zealand preparing to open on Easter Sunday. The Department of Labour must be vigilant in prosecuting breaches of the Shop Trading Hours Act this Easter,” she said.
“The tide has definitely turned against the liberalisers on this issue, with hundreds of people, organisations and even local councils making submissions opposing the lifting of restrictions in response to a recent Department of Labour discussion document.”