Family time under threat in the Shop Trading Hours Bill

New Zealand’s Catholic Bishops are disappointed that workers’ family time is under threat in the Shop Trading Hours Amendment Bill.

MPs have voted 75 to 45 in favour of the bill, moving it to the Commerce Committee for consideration.

“We are disappointed that the vote in favour of sending the Shop Trading Hours Amendment Bill to Select Committee means the rights of vulnerable workers and their families to time off at Easter is under threat,” said Cardinal John Dew on behalf of the Catholic Bishops of New Zealand.

“This is about ensuring that vulnerable workers can count on having time off for things that strengthen community and family life,” Dew said.

“We are also deeply concerned that a dangerous precedent could be set in turning an issue that has always been a conscience vote, into a government Bill in which MPs are not free to vote according to their conscience.”

“Conscience votes are an important protection for MPs and for society as a whole,” Cardinal Dew said.

Dew said the NZ Catholic Bishops would be making a submission to the committee to oppose the bill.

Cardinal John Dew is the President of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference.

Currently, laws stipulate most shops must close or restrict what they sell on Easter Sunday — for example, bars can only serve food (no alcohol).

The bill was put forward by Workplace Relations Minister Michael Woodhouse, who reasoned current laws were out of date.

“The historical Easter Sunday shop trading exemptions are out of date and create an unfair advantage for certain businesses and regions that can continue trading while others stay shut,” he said.

“We know there is a demand from communities across the country to allow for shop trading on Easter Sunday, particularly from those districts who rely on tourism.”

Good Friday, ANZAC Day and Christmas Day were not affected.

Woodhouse said the holiday is still significant for many Kiwis which is why workers will still be able to refuse to work on that day.


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