Media Release: Christmas at risk for retail workers

Published on: Aug 11 2017

Christmas is at risk for retail workers in the Newcastle region following the tabling yesterday of a fundamentally flawed report which recommends full retail trading on December 26th - a day that has normally been kept closed for families to enjoy time together over Christmas.

 SDA, the retail workers’ union, Newcastle Secretary, Barbara Nebart, said the report’s recommendations are incredibly disappointing and don't match its findings. The report was tabled by NSW Treasurer, Dominic Perrottet.

“The recommendations are based on myths – that there is some economic benefit from Boxing Day trading and the idea that workers have the ability to freely choose whether to work or not on Boxing Day,” Ms Nebart said.

Boxing Day trading has been trialed for two years in NSW. The report showed the results of the trial included:

  • retail sales growth in December dropped in the two years since Boxing Day trading was allowed compared to the previous two years when shops were closed;
  • 30% to 40% of retail workers felt pressured to work on Boxing Day;
  • 1 in 10 retail workers who said they didn't want to work on Boxing Day suffered negative consequences from their employer;
  • 1 in two retailers didn't even know their workers had a right to have the day off;
  • the Department has taken over 6 months to follow up workers complaints of being forced to work and has still not taken any action.

 

"Given these facts, how could the review recommend extending retail trading on Boxing Day?,” Ms Nebart asked.

“On paper workers may have the right to refuse to work, but anyone who has spent any time in the industry knows that if the shop is open that’s far from the reality.  

“Our politicians now have the opportunity to right the wrong of this report, reject its recommendations and give NSW families back their Boxing Day.

"Retail workers work so hard in the lead up to Christmas. All they want for Christmas is their two days off to spend with their family. Two days to travel to see loved ones, or two days to see both sides of the family, or just two days of downtime before it all starts again at the post Christmas sales. Two days is not too much to ask.

“There’s very little community desire for trading on Boxing Day. A public poll found that only 5 per cent of the public had shopping as their first priority on Boxing Day. Most people want to just be with family and friends. And of the 1,561 submissions to the Boxing Day review from industry stakeholders and the public over 1,500 opposed Boxing Day trading while just 12 submissions from big retailers and shopping centre owners wanted Boxing Day trading.

“It’s now up to our politicians to decide the fate of the great Aussie tradition of the family Boxing Day. Will our politicians stand up for retail workers and their families or bow to the dozen retailers and shopping centre owners who want to take Boxing Day away from families?                                                             

“The sales can start on December 27th and retailers will lose nothing. Boxing Day is a time for families. It’s now up to our politicians to show they recognise the importance of allowing workers to spend time with their families over Christmas. Shops can open almost every single other day of the year, but Christmas only comes around once.”

Ms Nebart said Newcastle workers will be speaking to politicians about the importance of leaving Boxing Day as a trading free day.

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