20 March 2008
National Distribution Union
Trading law breakers should not profit from their crime
The small minority of retailers who open in breach of shop trading laws on Good Friday and Easter Sunday should be prosecuted and should lose the value of their trade on the day, says the union for retail workers.
Speaking on the eve of Easter, the National Secretary of the National Distribution Union, Laila Harré said the union had made a submission to the recent government discussion document on shop trading hours which urged that companies be penalised for breaching the Act by confiscating their takings for the day.
"The current $1000 fine is pathetic and has allowed a small group of recidivist offenders to try to bully Parliament into changing the law. The Courts need to treat this offending more severely," said Ms Harré.
"A tiny number of retailers have been flouting the law for years. Their activities have been designed to create the impression that there is a widespread dissatisfaction with the general restrictions on Easter trading. In fact every survey of shop workers, retailers, and the community shows that there is a near-consensus in favour of keeping shops closed on the last three and a half shopping-free days. It is time the law was toughened up to stop these bullies making a profit from their illegal action," said Ms Harré.
The union says the tide is turning against liberalisation of shop trading hours.
"Bunnings has been one of the biggest offenders for years and has announced that it will not open in breach of the law this Easter. Bunnings workers have lobbied hard for this change, including petitioning the Australian government to enforce the requirements of the OECD Guideline for Multinationals which requires companies to stick to the law when they operate in other people's countries. Bunnings Australia's directive to keep shops closed has been welcomed by workers and will also relieve pressure on Bunnings's competitors to break the law to keep up," said Ms Harré.