Kapiti Easter Trading Opposed

Will shopping rule our district? Oppose Easter Sunday trading!

By Lyndy McIntyre,  former KCDC Councillor

What kind of district do we want to live in? I want to live in a place where workers and their families can have time off together.

Where we’re not driven by a need to shop till we drop every day of the year. I want to live in a place where we stand up for local workers.
That’s why I oppose open slather on shopping on Easter Sunday. I’m taking a stand on this and I invite you to take a stand too.Who would have known?

Who would know our council is currently “consulting” on whether to reduce the number of days shops are closed from 3½ to 2½? I didn’t until I spotted a consultation form when I was in the council paying my rates.

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( Editor — ‘KIN contacted Kapiti Mayor K Gurunathan for comment. He pointed out that he’d covered this subject recently in his column for the weekly Kapiti News (see full article at the end of Lyndy’s column).

The Mayor personally opposes such a move. But he says KCDC councillors will have a free vote on the issue.

He also stresses that proposals for Easter treading must go through a full official process’)

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‘Major change for workers’

This is a major change for our retail workers. Has the call come from the community, desperate for another day’s shopping? Of course not. It’s come from business and the Chamber of Commerce. I wonder how many of those calling for this will be working on Easter Sunday themselves.

‘Keep Easter Sunday Trading Out’

If this is agreed only Good Friday, Easter Monday and half of Anzac Day will be left as shopping-free days. Hutt City decided against consulting on this and Porirua booted it out.

So, let’s keep Easter Sunday trading out of Kapiti!

But we have to be quick. The closing date for submissions is 4pm, Sunday 8 October. Online submissions can be made here and written submissions, marked ‘Proposed Local Easter Sunday Shop Trading Policy’ can be emailed to submissions@kapiticoast,govt,nz

Retail workers and their families will be the losers if this policy is passed. These workers will be pressured to work on Easter Sunday and many won’t be able to refuse.

KCDC argues that “employees would be able to choose to work on Easter Sunday or not and this would be negotiated between the employer and employee”. This is rubbish.

 

Hard to say ‘No’

Although workers would have a legal right to say no and to take a personal grievance if they are required to work against their will, in the real world it’s hard to say no and even harder to take a personal grievance.

A few decades ago, when shops were first opened on Sunday, workers were told that they would never have to work on a Sunday if they did not want to. Now it’s just part of the job.

Workers who refuse Easter Sunday work could miss out on promotion, performance pay or simply get rostered off. The pressure to conform will overcome any ‘right’ to refuse.

Let’s look at European countries and think about the number of days shops are closed for family time, workers’ personal time and shopping-free time. Easter Sunday trading doesn’t benefit workers and their families or the community.

Let’s hang on to Easter Sunday as a chance to spend time together free of shopping.

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 Mayor Gurunathan’s column (printed earlier in the Kapiti News)

‘You are required to approach a decision with an open mind but not an empty head. This is one of the key dictums of good decision making followed by qualified RMA hearing commissioners. This is a useful place to start when considering council’s consultation on trading on Easter Sunday. Parliament made a cowardly decision last year to fob-off the responsibility of any change to Easter trading to local authorities. Following submissions by Retail NZ and Kapiti Chamber of Commerce, Kapiti councillors agreed to consult the community. A one-month consultation time is now open. 

Retail NZ , which has been campaigning to influence other councils, cites the contradictions in the current restrictions on Easter trading to support change. Firstly, small grocery shops are allowed to trade while supermarkets are not. Secondly, some areas trade on Easter Sunday while other areas in the same district can’t.  First Union, also campaigning to influence other councils, points out that workers have only three-and-a-half days of guaranteed days off per year. That these precious time for workers to spend with family and friends must be defended. The Union also pointed out that the notion that workers have a right not to work may look convincing on paper but does not work in practice especially amongst young, vulnerable, low-paid workers.

While I will approach the deliberation on the submissions and the council decision with an open mind I don’t have an empty head. Especially when the question of the value of Easter has historically and traditionally been linked to deeply held spiritual values. Given my own values this makes it a conscious vote.

For me, the spiritual value of Easter has a parallel universe. Blended in my appreciation of Jesus as a working class hero. Jesus was a rebel in a world dominated by a Roman colonial occupation and a local conservative religious bureaucracy. A consummate teacher who used the weapon of peace.

Listen to his wisdom when the Pharisees tried to trap Jesus by inciting him to speak against Roman authority and its right to tax Jews. Jesus asked whose image was wrought on the coin and, when confirmed, added : “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s”. A revelation that summarises the relationship between Christian thinking, society in general, and secular government.

Shops are closed on Good Friday

Jesus’ apostles and the people he fraternised with were poor working class and peasants. He subverted the authority of the religious order and was considered a revolutionary by the establishment. All this may come as a surprise to some of the present day church establishments who will not tolerate ‘revolutionaries’ amongst its flock. So, in essence, the political journey through this consultation process is going to be an interesting one.

I have a starting position that, while open to persuasion, is also strongly anchored to the exercise of a conscience vote. A conscience vote is a special type of vote which allows for the expression of personal beliefs over and above the exercise of a finely balanced decision making. Politically speaking, I believe, the marriage of convenience between the unions and churches rests on the fact that Jesus was , and is, a working class hero. Why would you not take the day off to spend with family and remember a man who was crucified for his beliefs.’