Open and shut case
Wednesday, 4th April, 2012
By Gayle Hogan
A proposal to allow all shops in New South Wales to open on Boxing Day has received a mixed reaction locally.
The Town Employees Union (TEU) said workers in non-essential services should not be forced to work public holidays but the Chamber of Commerce welcomed the chance for businesses to choose whether or not to open.
“I don’t think any employee should be forced to work Christmas day when the employer is not providing an essential service,” TEU secretary Ros Ferry told the Barrier Daily Truth yesterday.
“That is recognised as family time,” Ms Ferry said.
Executive Officer of the Chamber of Commerce, Anne Bransdon, said the Chamber welcomed any decision that cut the red tape associated with running a business.
“While this decision places retail businesses on a level playing field it should be up to retailers to make the call on whether or not they will operate on a public holiday because in reality the penalty rates can be crippling to small business,” Ms Bransdon said.
“It may not be economically viable for small business in Broken Hill to open on Boxing Day.”
“It would be up to each individual business to make that call.”
Ms Bransdon said it would be up to employers to negotiate working hours with employees and to weigh up the benefits of opening.
“Is the economic benefit to the community as important as the social and family impact?
“Business owners would have to weigh up if the economic benefit outweighed those considerations.
“What’s going to provide Broken Hill with the best community value?”
Ron Hill, who owns the Argent Street store Outback Whips and Leather, said he wouldn’t be opening on Boxing Day,
“I’m a traditionalist. I’m a five-and-a-half days a week man.
“If I opened, I’d probably find it a fairly quiet day but I’d be paying maximum penalty rates or I’d have to work myself and then miss out on time with my family.
“You’ve got to get that balance.”
NSW Opposition leader John Robertson has described the move as an insult to retail workers and said it meant they would be forced to front up on Christmas Day to help stock stores.
Almost 10,000 retail workers signed a petition calling for the dumping of the proposed laws and handed it to Mr Robertson on Monday.
Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations, Sophie Cotsis, said Christmas Day, Boxing Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and a half day on ANZAC Day were the only occasions when trade was restricted “and that is the way it should remain.”