Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Conservatives want to wind back the clock

The Newcastle Show Day Holiday Part 2

On 18 November 2008, Council heard from Mr Peter Shinnick (Hunter Business Chamber), Ms Jodie Harrison (United Services Union) and Mr Roger Geary (Newcastle Show Association).

Their comments are reproduced below.

Mr Roger Geary

Ms Jodie Harrison

Newcastle Show day is given as a public holiday to an employee where it is allowed as a public holiday in an industrial document which has been negotiated by relevant parties covering that employees' workplace.

The documents which contain conditions of employment are called Awards, enterprise agreements or collective agreements. Individual contracts also exist but they're unlikely to contain conditions such as Show Day.

Two Councils recognise Newcastle Show Day as a public holiday for their employees - Newcastle City Council and Lake Macquarie Council. These Councils recognise Show Day on Thursday or Friday of Show week, regardless of whether it has been locally gazetted.

The other area of United Services Union coverage which in some cases recognises Newcastle Show Day is in the clerical and administrative sector.

The Clerical and Administrative Employees (State) Award or NAPSA contains the conditions of employment for all privately employed clerical administrative employees. Mostly, it applies to clerical employees of smaller businesses.

This Award does not provide for a public holiday for locally gazetted holidays.

Whether or not Council decides to apply for Newcastle Show Day to be gazetted, it does not concern these employers. What the Clerical and Administrative Award does provide for is an "additional day's" holiday.

Larger businesses and workplaces in the area often have their own enterprise or collective agreements, with workplace entitlements specific to that organisation. The Newcastle Herald, the Tax Office, Chubb Cash Processing, and the NSW Ambulance Service, for example, recognise locally gazetted holidays. So a decision by Council to apply for gazettal of Show Day will affect these companies or organisations.

NIB recognises Newcastle Show Day for its Newcastle based employees whether it's gazetted or not.

The Building Societies and Armagard Agreements provide for the "additional day holiday: like the Clerical and Administrative Awards.

Ms Harrison indicated that was important for Council to remember in considering this issue that Collective Agreements and Awards have been negotiated by employers, unions and employees in good faith, with eyes open. If there is a provision in an agreement or Award for a particular condition, Show Day in this case, the employer and employees knew what they were doing. They made the deal. Employers use different conditions of employment to attract and retain employees - the Show Day holiday is used by some employers in this way.

She explained that for Council to consider that the cost of Newcastle Show Day to business is too much, when employers themselves have knowingly negotiated this public holiday into the conditions of its employees, it would be considered quite improper.

Ms Harrison expressed concern in Council allowing itself to be used as a "decision making scapegoat" by employers and employer groups who don't want to negotiate industrially with their employees and unions about Show Day.

Businesses themselves will have negotiated these conditions with unions and their employees, knowing their own situations.

In conclusion she stated that if Council did decide to remove Show Day as a public holiday for all those people in Newcastle who now benefit from it, was Council willing to recompense all of those people who would take a drop in working conditions, effectively one day's pay.

Mr Peter Shinnick

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