Woolworths has lost its bid to make thousands of staff work on Christmas Day in its New South Wales stores.
The supermarket giant wanted up to 5000 staff to work between midnight and 5am on Christmas Day to re-stock shelves.
In November, it applied to the the state’s Industrial Relations body for an exemption from the Retail Trading Act to allow staff to work on the holiday, arguing it was in the public interest.
What the industrial umpire said
The request was rejected because the company did not demonstrate the work fell under “exceptional circumstances” required by law.
“The applicant’s submissions (reasons in its application) have not demonstrated exceptional circumstances,” Industrial Relations executive director Vicki Telfer wrote in her decision.
“The applicant submits no evidence to support the contention that it is in the public interest for the employees of the applicant to work on the restricted trading day.”
What the unions say
The retail workers’ union labelled it a “big win” for workers and their families.
“Whilst we’re very, very pleased that Christmas Day has been protected, we’re still outraged that Woolworths would even make an application to have staff working on Christmas Day after all they give in the lead-up to Christmas,” the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association’s NSW secretary, Bernie Smith, said.
He also urged the government to go further and ban trading on Boxing Day.
“The only thing opening stores on the 26th does is rob workers and their families of the opportunity to spend the festive season together.”
What the expert say
Miles Heffernan, Litigation Director at Industrial Relations Claims welcomed the decision.
“Stores like Wooolworths are open 363 days of the year, surely they can allow their staff to have one day off to enjoy time with their families,” he said.
“If the shelves aren’t stocked at the supermarket for just one day, that isn’t going to break the Australian economy, so I think they were being a bit cheeky to ask for the exemption in the first place.”
In a statement, Woolworths says it is disappointed with the decision.
If you have a workplace issue, please call our team at Industrial Relations Claims on
1300 045 466