Workers Deserve Their Easter Break – Let’s Keep it That Way

The two bills before Parliament that would extend shop trading to all or some locations on Good Friday and Easter Sunday have not had time to be debated and therefore won’t apply this Easter.

“That is great news for workers,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First. “As families throughout NZ take time out for family holidays, camps, reunions, Easter church events, cultural and recreational events over this Easter weekend, kiwis employed in the retail industry should also be able to enjoy the public holidays and extended weekend.”

In its submission to the Commerce Select Committee on the bills, Family First highlighted a number of surveys showing that families want, and need, more quantity time.

A 2006 survey for Relationship Services of 1,000 NZ’ers found that more than half of the population want more time with their children (66 per cent of men, 52 per cent of women) and close friends (54 per cent on average). And Auckland University’s Adolescent Health Research Group report from 2001 found that 40% of students said they didn’t get enough time with their parents each week.

A 2003 Equal Employment Opportunity Trust on-line survey on fathering and paid work found that 80% of fathers generally wish they could spend more time with their children, and 82% of respondents said their paid work negatively affects the amount of time they spend with their children. Nearly 1200 New Zealand fathers completed the survey

And a recent International Labour Organisation (ILO) report showed that New Zealanders work longer than any other nationality, apart from the Japanese. 21% of New Zealand workers work more than 50 hours a week. Yet in most EU countries the number of people working 50 hours or more per work remains well under 10%. Just over 1% workers in the Netherlands work longer hours, while only 6% in Greece and Ireland do so.

Family First believes that public holidays including Easter, Labour Day, Christmas, New Year, Anzac Day and Queens Birthday help create rituals for families, not based on shopping but on celebrating together, reconnecting, and making memories.

The sponsor of one of the Bills, National’s Jacqui Dean, said, “NZ now has a 24 hour, 7 day a week trading environment, providing goods and services in shops, in malls, and on the Internet. Our overseas visitors expect to be able to shop…tourism is a 365-day-a-year industry”.

Yet a holiday anywhere in the world means encountering when shops are not open. This includes a Friday in any Islamic country, Saturdays in Israel, many Sundays in part of the Netherlands; Sundays in Germany, Zimbabwe, and Pacific neighbours like Samoa, Fiji and Tonga, and limited shopping in large stores in the UK on Sundays.

And then there are the closures on religious and state holidays throughout the world. New Zealand is not out of step with the trading patterns of other countries.

For the sake of families and the well-being of our nation, keep the public holidays. 

We all need the break. 

ENDS