The Christian Democratic Party recently passed the Retail Trading Amendment (Boxing Day) Bill 2017 with an amendment that will put the law under inquiry in 2019. Originally, the ALP introduced Sunday trading, which effectively removed all protection for workers that they were required to work on Sundays when requested.

The inquiry will take place before a Committee chaired by Rev Fred Nile MLC and will focus on investigating (among other things) whether or not workers have been coerced into working on religious holidays and other festivities. There was no opposition to the motion to establish this inquiry.

The purpose of the law was to protect the rights of workers, specifically in relation to their ability to spend time with their families on the following holiday periods:

  • Good Friday,
  • Easter Sunday,
  • ANZAC Day, before 1pm,
  • Christmas Day, and
  • Boxing Day

The Christian Democratic Party is mindful of that fact that commercial pressures have eroded the time many of the most vulnerable workers are able to spend with their families during important religious periods. It is essential therefore that when the Committee convenes to review the legislation, members will have detailed information about how the law has been used by industry and individual employees.

We therefore call upon interested parties to ensure that detailed information is collated in relation to any coercion that may be suffered by workers who are forced to stay at work against their preference. The kind of information that might be useful would include the following:

  1. The date of the holiday.
  2. A detailed description of the pressure applied to the worker.
  3. If possible, a signed statement describing the course of events that led to the coercion of the worker.
  4. Whether or not any complaints were made, and the outcome of those complaints.
  5. Whether or not legal advice or representation was obtained by the worker.
  6. Whether or not any prosecutions were made as a result of the complaints or any legal representation.
  7. If a prosecution was pursued against the employer, the outcome of that prosecution and the reasons for the decision.
  8. If no prosecution was made, the reasons for the failure to prosecute.
  9. A description of how the worker felt and how his or her family was affected.

Any information that is provided to us absolutely must be:

(a)  True, correct and accurate,

(b) Provided in good faith,

(c)  Legal and lawful to disclose,

(d) Devoid of defamatory or scandalous material,

(e)  Preferably reviewed by a legal practitioner with a view for disclosure to a Parliamentary Committee concerning the review of legislation.

Your privacy will be respected, however any material provided to the Committee must be able to be verified for authenticity and appropriateness.

Media inquiries:  Rev. Fred Nile MLC:               (02) 9230 2478

The Rev. The Hon. Fred Nile MLC

27 September 2017

END

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