RETAIL workers from across the region have slammed NSW government plans to allow Boxing Day trading, accusing it of sacrificing family life for economic gain.
Forty regional delegates from the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association met in Armidale yesterday to be briefed about the proposal, representing about 3000 employees across the New England, North West. Treasurer Mike Baird has said he was committed to extending retail trading hours to include Boxing Day, to bring NSW in line with other states such as Victoria.
NSW branch secretary for the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association, Gerard Dwyer, said there was no reason to think the
government would stop there, saying Easter and Anzac Day could also come into the equation.
Mr Dwyer said Prime Minister Tony Abbott had also indicated he was keen to take the issue of deregulated retail trading hours to the Council of Australian overnments.
Mr Baird said earlier this month it made no sense that a small part of NSW could trade on Boxing Day because of “tourist trading precinct” exemptions, but the rest couldn’t.
“The modernisation of retail trading laws in NSW is well overdue,” he said. But for Tamworth Woolworths employee Alison Carter, it makes no sense to sacrifice workers’ time with their family at Christmas.
“It’s an important family time for us and is literally the only two consecutive days of the year my husband, who’s an interstate truck driver, and I spend together,” she told The Leader yesterday.
Many in retail worked on weekends, Mrs Carter said, so looked forward to the two-day Christmas break.
“In retail, the weeks leading up to Christmas are full-on so we deserve that time off like everyone else.
“We’re determined to fight for this ... (because) two days off in a row is not a lot to ask.”
She said those at yesterday’s meeting were preparing to make the case to their local MPs. A Tamworth delegation would seek a meeting with member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson.
Mr Dwyer said local retail outlets were already open for trade 362.5 days each year and the economic case had not been made for the extended hours.
“People will not end up with more money in their pockets to spend just because stores may open another day or two,” he said.