Retailers want Easter Sunday trading option

Dougal McGowan
Dougal McGowan
Dunedin retailers still want the choice to open their doors on Easter Sunday.

More than 110 submissions were made on the Dunedin City Council's Easter Sunday trading policy.

The majority were in favour of returning to the situation where only a few select shops were allowed to open.

But the submission from the Otago Chamber of Commerce shows support for the policy among the city's retailers.

A survey of the chamber's retail members found more than 75% wanted the policy to continue, even though only 40% said they would open if allowed.

Chamber chief executive Dougal McGowan said while less than half indicated they would open again, the experience from this year showed some owners decided to open only just before Easter.

''I think what is shows is there is a range of factors which goes into those decisions, which is why the option to open is so important for our members, '' Mr McGowan said.

There was strong opposition to the policy from unions.

Unite Union organiser Sonja Mitchell said the argument employees chose to work was disingenuous and ignored the power imbalance between employers and their employees.

Having the choice to work or not was not the experience of many employees, especially those on low-hour contracts, Ms Mitchell said.

She cited the council's own survey which found some employees felt pressured to work on Easter Sunday this year.

''Shop-workers deserve rest and time with their families, friends, communities, marae and church groups outside and away from the shops.''

First Union organiser Shirley Walthew said retail employees had only three and a-half days a year where they did not need to ask for a day off and the subtle pressure placed on them to work built resentment and distrust.

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