Keira MP Ryan Park has slammed a move by supermarket chain Woolworths to ask staff to pack shelves on Christmas Day.
Woolworths is seeking permission from the department of industrial relations to receive and unpack goods for five hours on Christmas morning to help replenish its shelves for customers on Boxing Day.
The politician said there should be a couple of days a year, including Christmas Day, when retail workers should be able to spend time with their family and friends.
We all know what voluntary really means. Pressure would be placed on workers until it becomes unbearable and they have to work.
“There is ample opportunity for everyone to get what they need for Christmas Day and Boxing Day with the extended hours before Christmas,” he said
“There will be pressure on employees to work on Christmas Day when most would prefer to spend time with their loved ones.
“We have to draw the line somewhere.”
A Woolworths spokesman defended the bid telling Fairfax Media stock replenishment was permitted on public holidays in all other states and territories.
"We have more than 38,000 team members in New South Wales, many of whom tell us they want the opportunity to earn public holiday pay rates on Christmas Day,” he said.
"We fully respect the right of team members to enjoy Christmas Day with loved ones and never compel anyone to work who doesn't wish to do so."
Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees' Association NSW/ACT Secretary Bernie Smith labelled the move by Woolworths as "appalling".
“Christmas should be spent with friends and family and it is time when people should be taking time out to relax,” he said.
“There is no economic benefit to allowing employees to work on Christmas Day but there is a cost to friends and family of those workers.”
Mr Smith said employees would not be able to travel if they were required to work for part of the day nor see different sides of their family.
He also took concern with Woolworths saying working on the day would be “voluntary”.
“We all know what voluntary really means,” he said.
“Pressure would be placed on workers until it becomes unbearable and they have to work.”
Mr Smith said the state government had to take responsibility and not allow this move.
“The government allowed an open slather on retail businesses trading on Boxing Day last year and we warned them this would happen.
“The government needs to step up, say it is not right and while they are at it, give workers back their Boxing Day.”
Mr Smith fears the request to have staff replenish stock is only the beginning.
“In a couple of years Woolworths will be asking for the right to open on Christmas Day,” he said. “We ask Woolworths to withdraw its application.”
Mr Park previously said Labor was opposed to stores opening on Boxing Day rather than allowing employees to enjoy the public holiday.
He said Labor would “change the legislation” if it won office in the March 2018 election.