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Keep shops closed at Easter - union urges

Press release: National Distribution Union

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Keep shops closed at Easter - union urges

The union for retail workers is urging shop workers, community groups, churches and the general public to oppose renewed efforts to open shops for business on Easter Sunday.

The National Distribution Union's call follows the release of a Government discussion document which contains options for reducing shop trading protections and which is open for public submissions until December 14.

National Secretary, Laila Harré, says that the most important question being asked in the discussion document is whether the opening of shops should be the exception or the rule on Easter Sunday.

"The extension of shop trading hours has left us with only three and half shopping-free-days," she says. "These are days when 300,000 shop and retail distribution workers know that they will not be under any pressure to work. Days which celebrate and encourage family and community activity, including religious observance. Days when strengthening these values is declared to be more important than appealing to narrow commercial interests."

"Once this genie is let out of the bottle there will be no putting it back. Shop workers will be most directly affected by liberalisation, but opening shops at Easter will impact on everyone. Sports tournaments, marae working bees, church services, family holidays and other important social activities will feel the impact."

The union supports Easter Sunday being made a public holiday for all workers but says this should not be a trade-off for liberalising trading.

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"Those working in exempted shops or 24:7 services deserve time and a half and a day in lieu now. These issues should be dealt with separately," said Laila Harré.

The union says that the time being given for submissions is too short.

"We are at the start of the busiest time of year for shops. It is not a good time to be thinking through complex issues and suggesting a way through. We have always said that the system of exemptions should be updated so that current exemptions can be reviewed and new ones considered. But developing a formula that will continue to allow only for genuine exceptions is complicated and needs more than a month to get to grips with."


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