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Media releases

Churches move to save Boxing Day holiday

For immediate release

17 March 2014

The NSW Council of Churches has expressed strong support for workers threatened with the erosion of restricted retail trading hours on public holidays.

Council President, the Reverend Dr Ross Clifford, said the current restrictions on retail trading hours should be retained in NSW in order to support a healthy work-life balance for workers and their families.

“We take the view that all persons are created equal, in the image of God, and must therefore be treated with dignity and respect, including in the workplace. A few days of designated public holidays out of 365 days in a year is not too great a burden for employers to carry in support of the common good,” Dr Clifford said.

Christians affirm that work done should be justly remunerated; that workers have a right to adequate rest from their employment; and that a healthy work-life balance delivers measurable benefits to workers, their families, their employers and the whole community.

Leaders from the Anglican, Catholic, Uniting and Baptist churches, and representatives of Wesley Mission and the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association, have signed an open letter to NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell, urging him to guarantee that retail trading hours will not be extended to include Christmas Day, Boxing Day, Anzac Day, Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

“We appreciate the exemptions currently in place covering tourist areas and parts of the Sydney CBD – a sensible compromise. If people are desperate to shop they can avail themselves of these special trading areas on a public holiday. But if retail trading hours are deregulated for Boxing Day, employees will need to work on Christmas Day to prepare stores, and that is unacceptable,” Dr Clifford said.

The Reverend Fred Nile, leader of the Christian Democratic Party in the NSW Legislative Council, said he remained committed to opposing the O’Farrell Government’s plans to extend retail trading hours to Boxing Day, saying it could eventually lead to further extensions of trading, including Easter Sunday, regarded as the most sacred day on the Christian calendar.

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