Council cans Easter trading

Easter Sunday shopping in Dunedin is no more, leaving unions happy but businesses disappointed.

The Dunedin City Council voted 10 to 4 yesterday to return to the old rules, which only allows certain types of shops to open.

It also voted to ask the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to make changes to the Local Easter Sunday Trading Hours Act so local bodies could allow Easter Sunday trading if certain conditions were met, such as a major concert or event.

Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dougal McGowan called the decision a disappointment and accused the council of being hypocritical.

Last month, a council hearings committee voted 3-1 to recommend the council reinstate the old rules, partly based on claims from unions some employees had been forced to work.

Cr Christine Garey asked if any official complaints had been made by employees who had been forced to work.

Dunedin City Council community services general manager Simon Pickford said there had been no complaints made to either the council or MBIE.

While union evidence was only anecdotal, Cr Garey said she was happy to take them at their word.

Cr Aaron Hawkins said it was inevitable there would be situations were employees were forced to work and it was unlikely they would make a formal complaint out of concerns for their job security.

Mayor Dave Cull said there had not been a groundswell of support from the public to retain the policy which is why he supported returning to the old policy.

Cr Mike Lord said he did not support returning to the old policy as there were already many employees, such as cleaners and restaurant staff, who worked on Easter Sunday.

Cr Jim O'Malley and Cr Kate Wilson both said it should be the Government which made the decision, not individual councils.

Crs Chris Stanyes, Hawkins, Rachel Elder, David Benson-Pope, Damian Newell, Garey, Marie Laufiso and Mr Cull voted to revoke the policy.

Crs Lee Vandervis, Conrad Stedman, Lord and Doug Hall voted to keep the policy.

Cr Andrew Whiley was not present for the vote yesterday but was the only councillor on the hearings committee to vote against the recommendation.

Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dougal McGowan watched the debate and called the decision a disappointment. He was frustrated with the reason some councillors put forward for supporting the return to the old rules and said they made their decision based on anecdotal evidence from unions.

''It doesn't appear from what we understand there has been anyone complain to MBIE or the Employment Relations Authority about shopkeepers' behaviour during that time.''

It was hypocritical of the council to not allow businesses to open when council-run organisations, such as Moana Pool, would be open and their staff working.

First Union representative Shirley Walthew said the council had made the right decision.

tim.miller@odt.co.nz

Comments

And the DCC is a big fan of Dunedin being a great tourist town what a joke, just another joke to add to the other pathetic decissions the DCC leaders make.

As a lobby, the OCC needs to be political, but is a bit incautious with its narrow view of statutory holidays for employees.