The NSW government has rejected Woolworths’ application to have 3500 staff work on Christmas Day.
Woolworths in November applied to the NSW Department of Industrial Relations for an exemption from the Retail Trading Act to allow staff to stock shelves on December 25 in preparation for Boxing Day, as other states and territories have allowed.
However, the Industrial Relations said the application failed to demonstrate the exceptional circumstances required for an exemption.
In a tweet, Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said “businesses should do everything they can to ensure staff have the day off to spend with their families”.
The union for retail, fast food and warehouse welcomed the news.
SDA NSW secretary Bernie Smith described it as a win for workers and their families, but said the government should have taken steps to end trading on Boxing Day too.
“Today’s decision means that Woolies workers will at least get the opportunity spend the 25th of December with their families. It’s just unfortunate that they’ll still be forced back in-store on the 26th,” Smith said in a statement.
“Boxing Day is for playing backyard cricket and eating Christmas leftovers, not for manning cash registers and stocking shelves. There’s no reason the sales can’t start on the 27th of December.”
The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) balked at the suggestion last week from newly-elected NSW Labor leader Michael Daley that Boxing Day trading should end, and that it was “all about corporate greed”.
Russell Zimmerman, executive director of the ARA, said Daley’s comments were “prehistoric” and “straight out of the primordial ooze”.
“This proposition is straight out of the primordial ooze and Daley wants to take NSW back to the land before time,” Zimmerman said.
“While this may come as a surprise to some in politics, the majority of New South Welshmen have views which have evolved well-past this 1980s-era thinking. Consumers want to shop on Boxing Day, employees want the opportunity to earn extra wages, and retailers want to trade.”