Liberal Government Removes Right of Casuals Refuse to Work on Boxing Day

Today the NSW Liberal Government removed the right of casuals to refuse to work on Boxing Day. The Greens support the right of all workers to spend this important day with family and loved ones. 


Ms JENNY LEONG (Newtown) [6.14 p.m.]: I contribute to debate on the Retail Trading Amendment Bill 2015 and support the member for Ballina, Tamara Smith, who spoke on behalf of The Greens to say that we oppose this bill. We have serious concerns about the impact that this bill will have on work-life balance for many people. I will speak briefly on behalf of the more than 3,000 residents in the electorate of Newtown who work in the retail industry. I will also speak on behalf of the thousands of others who have family members who work in retail, because they will be impacted by these changes.

Many of those people who work in retail in the electorate of Newtown are young people and the real concern is that they will not be able to freely elect whether or not they want to work. I remember very clearly being in the casual workforce and I know that when a casual is told to work on a Sunday, if they have other commitments, sure, they can choose to say, "No, I am not going to come in on that day." A casual worker can freely elect to do that but it will mean that the worker is not rostered on the next week, and will probably not have a job as a result of not turning up.

We know that at this time of year people in many families will be negotiating the logistics of the Christmas-Boxing Day period. In my case I have some family in Adelaide, some family in Hobart and some family in Sydney. That leads to the challenge of negotiating which part of the family I will spend that time with. Someone that I know has some family in Picton, some family in Ballina and some family on the Central Coast. Negotiating how you manage to spend this time with family over one day—because you are required to be back at work on the second day—would be of huge concern.

The Parliament and this Government should be approaching the laws that we make in ways that seek to protect people's ability to work but also connect with their families. Laws should be made with an understanding of people's wellbeing. Everyone should have the right to enjoy the luxury of public holidays. The right to those holidays has been hard won. The right of workers not to have to put work before their family lives and before their wellbeing should be protected. That is why The Greens strongly oppose this bill. We strongly urge the Government not to go ahead with this legislation because it will have a huge impact on young, casual workers. It will have a huge impact on people who want to spend time with their families. That is not what we should be doing in the lead-up to Christmas. We should be encouraging people to spend more time with their families, not preventing them from being able to do that by eating into public holidays.


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