SDA Newcastle and Northern slam NSW Government decision to legislate Boxing Day trade

Picture: Andrew Taylor
Picture: Andrew Taylor

The Hunter’s retail workers union has slammed the NSW Government’s decision to legislate Boxing Day trading, saying Christmas was at risk for the region’s retail workers.

The NSW Government announced on Thursday it would legislate to allow Boxing Day trade to continue in all parts of NSW in accordance with an independent review of a two-year trial.

The trial allowed boxing day trade in tourist precincts and city centres such as Westfield Kotara and Charlestown Square.

The review by Professor Percy Allan AM considered feedback on the trial from retailers, employees and shoppers.

But the retail workers union SDA believes the report was “fundamentally flawed”.

SDA Newcastle and Northern secretary Barbara Nebart said the report’s recommendations were incredibly disappointing and didn't match its findings.

“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.

Retailers who pressure employees to work could face fines of up to $11,000 per employee.

“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,” Ms Nebart said.                               

“Boxing Day is a time for families. Shops can open almost every single other day of the year, but Christmas only comes around once.

“The sales can start on December 27th and retailers will lose nothing. 

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

Parliamentary secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald said he had only received strong positive feedback for Boxing Day trading in Hunter areas that didn't previously have boxing day trade.

He said before the two year trial, Hunter shoppers were restricted to Port Stephens or had to travel to Wyong or Sydney.

“It has benefited Hunter businesses, supported local retail jobs including giving many young people a chance to earn holiday money. It has kept shoppers in the region,” Mr MacDonald said.

Legislation to enable the 2015 reforms to continue will be introduced in the coming months.