Victorian traders would be banned from opening on Anzac Day and penalty rates introduced on Easter Sunday under a proposed upheaval of public holidays.
The Victorian ALP will consider introducing an all-day ban on Anzac Day trading and changes to Easter Sunday rules at its state conference on Saturday.
The proposals are contained in the 2010 ALP draft policy platform that the government will take to the November election.
The platform states that Labor will ensure Anzac Day is declared a “non trading day” for the whole day so that retail workers can participate in commemorations.
Currently traders are banned from opening until 1pm, unless they have fewer than 20 staff on an ordinary working day.
If agreed to, the policy would allow retail workers to take all of Anzac Day off for the first time since the retail industry was deregulated under the Kennett government in 1996.
The reforms would also gazette Easter Sunday as a public holiday, enabling workers in declared holiday areas, including Torquay, Mildura, Lakes Entrance and Beechworth, to elect to take the day off or be paid penalty rates, typically double time and a half.
The policy has been advanced by the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA), which represents 50,000 Victorian workers.
SDA state secretary Michael Donovan said, if passed, the new rules would help keep the spirit of Anzac Day alive, encouraging more people to participate as digger numbers thin.
“At the moment shops are required to close until 1 o’clock on Anzac Day, but in a practical sense that doesn’t give retail workers a real opportunity to participate in the commemorations,” he told AAP.
“By the time they have to get dressed properly for work, have lunch, get themselves to work, in a practical sense, they’re not really able to participate.”
But employers have slammed the idea.
Alexandra Marriott, workplace relations policy manager for the Victorian Employer’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI), said forced closures on Anzac Day alone would cost the retail industry millions.
“The implication is that it would be crippling for business, particularly for regional and tourism based businesses that rely on visitation on days like public holidays,” she said.
Ms Marriott said there was an expectation that workers in the retail and hospitality industries worked weekends but some had provisions for substitute days or other compensation for working Sundays.
The policy will be debated at the last state conference before the election.
Federal Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner will address the conference, followed by Victorian Premier John Brumby.