Media releases

Protect shared leisure time for workers, say churches

24 April 2012

The NSW Council of Churches strongly backs the Take the Time campaign and has called on the O’Farrell Government to cease moves to deregulate restricted retail trading hours in NSW.

NSW Council of Churches President, the Revd Dr Ross Clifford, said the Council passed a unanimous resolution at its last meeting in support of the rights of retail workers to shared leisure time with their family and friends on major NSW public holidays.

The resolution, passed at a meeting on 2 April, states that the NSW Council of Churches:

(a)  opposes any changes to current NSW legislation with respect to retail trading on Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Christmas Day and Anzac Day;

(b)   expresses serious reservations regarding any changes to current legislation with respect to retail trading on other public holidays including Boxing Day; and

(c)   supports moves to ensure that the rights and freedoms of workers are not eroded by any changes to legislation.

NSW Council of Churches Public Affairs Director, the Revd Rod Benson, said the Council made its decision on the basis of widely agreed and biblically informed principles of justice:

(a)      All persons are created equal and should be treated with dignity and respect;

(b)      Workers have a right to adequate rest from their employment;

(c)      A healthy work-life balance delivers benefits to workers, their families, their employers and the whole community and employers should take care not to impose responsibilities on their employees which lead to a deterioration in work-life balance.

“We do not believe that the number of restricted trading days should be reduced. The state has a responsibility to serve and protect the interests of its citizens with respect to employment conditions and entitlements. These are easily eroded or removed by commercial and corporate pressures, and once reduced are difficult to reinstate,” Rev Benson said.

“Last time I checked, Jesus Christ was not in the service of the Australian Retailers Association, or other privileged groups, nor of any particular political party. But he was committed to the welfare and just entitlements of ordinary working women and men. Jesus did not come to strengthen existing power structures, nor to reward the power elites, but to dismantle and disempower them – where they are demonstrably corrupt, or where their partisan interests and influence is corrupting,” Rev Benson said.

Media contact Rod Benson 0412 421 678 or Ross Clifford 0417 685 201



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