In case it has escaped anyone’s attention, I am not a religious man. I joked with my colleague at work that I was going to spend my Easter break watching Richard Dawkins’ series The God Delusion, and did. I had also intended to get well and truly pissed on the Sabbath in the company of a couple of friends who were visiting from out of town. I knew that the Christians had already ruined my chances of a boozy Friday; I didn’t realise they’d buggered up Sunday too.
Yes, you can plan in advance. But the beauty of the modern age is that you shouldn’t have to. At this point the ghost (metaphorical, she’s not dead) of Public Address blogger Tze Ming Mok appears on my shoulder and reminds me that while I’m throwing a tanty over being unable to buy a bottle of Pinot Gris on one of only three days out of 365, there’s a tank rolling over someone in China. To which I say probably, but I don’t live there.
Before I continue, I should add that I don’t want this to come across like some Cactus Kate-esque whinge, “wah wah wah, how hideous, where are the minions with my Dom Perignon?” I think it’s important for people to have days off. Even the minions. I think even if you say Thou Shalt Not Force an Employee to Work on a Public Holiday Against His Will, it’s pretty hard to enforce. People will be forced. On the other hand there are a lot of people who could do with the time and a half and a day in lieu, and who wouldn‘t be doing anything else that day (certainly not getting drunk, because you can‘t).
Last night on Back Benches I spoke to Mark Thomas, the owner of Real Groovy Records. He’s a good guy, and I believe him when he said he had more than enough volunteers from his staff to fill the weekend. I believe him when he said that if no-one had wanted to work, they wouldn’t have opened, simple as that.
I’ve worked all sorts of holidays before, particularly when I was in hospitality. As a student, if you took a job over summer, it was implicit that you would be working at least either or both Christmas Day or New Year’s Eve (the latter, painfully, not a holiday with time-and-a-half perks). I don’t remember it being particularly optional, but if you take a job in December, what do you expect?
What struck me last night, was how much this argument is focused on shops, and shopping. What are the rules about other businesses? You may notice, for example, that your television set still picked up all the major networks, there were people there reading the news, reporting the news (well, let’s be honest, eagerly updating the road toll, that’s the only f***ing news we get every Easter). Of the two shows I worked on, one went out on Sunday morning, and the other required me to work on Monday for it to get to air on Wednesday. Choice? Not so much. Extra pay? Not for this contractor.
I guess my point, such as there is one, should be this. Ignoring all the religious reasons for not selling booze (or letting the butcher open for my BBQ) on Easter Sunday, and looking at it from a labour (little L) point of view, if it’s about saving people from the tyranny of non-essential jobs three days a year, why not be consistent? If I have to work, but can’t buy a box of beers afterwards, why should people get to watch TV? If you really want to watch TV, surely you could tape some the day before, like I’m supposed to do with the wine.
(Please note that this is not the official position of TVNZ or its employees. I'm sure they love making telly on religious holidays. Even though they probably can't sell advertising... hmm... I wonder if they'd actually rather turn it all off for a couple of days?)
Speaking of turning off TV... Ian Audsley has spoken. Sunrise gone, Business gone