Red Alert

Archive for the ‘retail’ Category

Waitangi and ANZAC day confusion

Posted by on February 6th, 2011

Just to make it clear that having a public holiday on the Monday after Waitangi Day or ANZAC day when they fall on a weekend or another public holiday, doesn’t mean you celebrate them on the Monday.

They would just be treated like Christmas, Boxing Day, New Years Day and the day after.

No great secret that I looked at the issue when in government and decided that implementing four weeks annual holiday for all every year was a higher priority. What is now clear is that the public want both and as soon as possible.

And while we are sorting out these anomalies we should sort Easter Sunday as well. It is probably the most important day on the Christian calendar, but because when we sorted our public holidays no one contemplated shops opening or people working on a Sunday it was left off the list. That needs to be fixed.

Food for Thought

Posted by on April 8th, 2010

Over Easter I had a chance to get into our vegetable garden.  Harvested the last of the tomatoes, some chillies and got things tidied up for planting more cauliflower, broccoli and broad beans.   Most of my life I have had a vegetable garden and have been able to grow some of the food I eat, an enormously satisfying experience I worry is increasingly less common.

Fruit and vegetables have come up quite often in recent conversations.  I hear about (and see) the good work happening in a number of our schools where vegetables are grown and compost bins tended.  A budget adviser told me that in England there is a requirement for schools to have fruit trees to give students access to fresh fruit.  I’m not sure how this works but it didn’t seem to be a bad idea.  Both of these approaches provide fresh healthy food to young people (for some, from families struggling to make ends meet and where food is scarce, this is a practical help)  and show young people that food is something you can grow (not just buy in the supermarket). 

In fact in a country like New Zealand with a natural advantage in producing food we should maximise opportunities to encourage people to grow food.  Even those with limited space can grow produce like tomatoes and salad greens in containers.

It is scandalous that fresh healthy food which we can grow easily is as expensive as it is.  It is not the producers who are making huge profits from fruit and vegetables but supermarkets are a different story.   I was interested in a feature in the Sunday Star Times particularly the comments about industrialised (processed) foods, the food industry, natural foods and about the importance of cooking (another skill that is not as widespread as it once was it seems).  

Food is one of our fundamental needs.  Despite this as a result of poverty too many people globally including some in New Zealand do not have  an adequate and regular supply of the food they need.   Food is something that is huge business.  If you look at the worlds largest companies food producers and retailers are right up there – huge, profitable global corporates with enormous purchasing and marketing power.

For all of these reasons (and for our health) lets ensure we hold on to the skills of growing and cooking  food.

On the local and immediate, one final request following a conversation with a local food bank – if you have surplus fruit or vegetables give it to the food bank.  They are generally unable to provide fresh food and some of the food that goes to waste (think ahead to the forthcoming feijoa season) can make a difference.

Shop till you drop – again

Posted by on December 9th, 2009

Yet another attempt to extend shop trading hours was introduced in the House today. Todd McLay put forward the Shop Trading Hours Act 1990 Repeal (Easter Sunday Local Choice) Amendment Bill.  The Bill sought to provide for Council by- laws allowing trading on Easter Sunday in their area.  And of course it was only for areas where people want shops to open (which people?) and of course it was a matter of choice for all – workers, shop owners and local areas.  Yeah right!

We already have one of the most liberal shop trading regimes in the world.  We can shop 361 and half days a year.  Since 1990 that means we can shop 24 hours a day including on 51 out of 52 Sundays and every public holiday except Good Friday, Christmas Day and the morning of Anzac Day.  But that is not enough!   Tourists going to Rotorua on Easter weekend are of course wanting to shop on Easter Sunday and their whole experience of the wonderful cultural and natural environment are spoiled currently by being unable to do so.

Easter is a very significant time for New Zealanders.  It has religious significance, family significance and community significance.  Think here of all the reunions and tournaments that take place at Easter.   Retail workers are not an insignificant group of workers – 270,000 people who also want to share in the events that take place over Easter.   Supposedly they would have a choice whether they will work on Easter Sunday under this legislation because it says workers cannot be required to work on Easter Sunday.  Well as Lynne Pillay said and as many retail workers know it is not an equal relationship between retail workers and their employers. There are many reasons why workers will feel pressured to work if their shop is open.   Most shops have very tight staffing levels, often work is highly casualised with people seeking to get more permanent hours, there are many young workers (65% of workers under 18 years of age work in retail) who often don’t know their rights or are not particularly confident in asserting their rights.  Those who don’t agree know they will be told they aren’t team players and of course many workers feel pressured to work because they know if they don’t that they are putting pressure on their workmates.  Despite what many people think Easter Sunday is not a public holiday so there is not the same reward for working on Easter Sunday.

And 5 minutes ago it was voted down 59 for and 62 against.  A victory!