Christmas comes early for workers

 

LABOR is pushing ahead with plans to make the night before Christmas a public holiday with laws to enact the change to be introduced today.

The Courier-Mail can reveal Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace will move to legislate to make Christmas Eve a public holiday for six hours from 6pm.

It follows a month-long consultation on the move the State estimates could lead to extra wage costs for the public and private sector of up to $136.9 million a year.

The SDA has spearheaded the change, lobbying the government adopt it to ensure workers were properly compensated for the sacrifice of working that night.

Employer groups, however, had asked the government to delay its plans, arguing it would drive up costs for business with little justification and lead to closures.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (AAP Image/Glenn Hunt) NO ARCHIVING
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (AAP Image/Glenn Hunt) NO ARCHIVING

Ms Grace, however, said she believed the majority of the community was in favour, pointing to almost three quarters of the 1779 submissions the Government had received on the proposal that supported the new public holiday compared to 29 per cent who were opposed.

"We received submissions from retail workers, bus drivers, mothers and religious leaders, just to name a few, who wrote of the ever-growing importance of Christmas Eve as a special time for family and friends to come together and celebrate the season and the need to properly compensate those who were required to work," Ms Grace said.

"The Palaszczuk Governments strongly agrees with them. The night before Christmas is as important to families as the day itself.

"Making it a public holiday will give those who have to work, like essential services staff, retail workers and shop employees, better pay for doing so."

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk backed the move, insisting it would ensure workers who had to work on the night received "proper compensation".

"The night before Christmas is as important to families as the day itself," she said.

Queensland is the third jurisdiction to make the change after South Australia and the Northern Territory.