Did anyone else feel a bit lost and confused about the Mondayisation of Anzac day? We have just had our long Easter break, got the autumn jobs done around the house and now we have another long weekend right behind it. Well why not? if its paid, why not indeed? Except, for many people, the workplace is not just a place of arduous toil, it is very much part of our social connection, our comfortable routine. So taking another random, unmemorable, wintry holiday probably means just another day of dragging the family through the mall to fill in a couple of hours or watching some dvd while waiting to get back to their routine.
But this time it did not just a little bit holidayed out, this one also has a bit of a weird feel. We commemorated Anzac Day on Anzac Day. So what is this Mondayisation all about? Just keep the Anzac theme going for another day?
This Mondayisation was the brainchild of David Clarke and Grant Robertson of the Labour Party. The Labour Party no doubt presumed that they would be heroes of the smoko room for delivering another holiday. “Hurrah for another holiday.” But the thrashing they got at the last election showed that ‘just another holiday’ was no vote winner.
At the time of the passing of the law 61:60, Labour Party Deputy leader Grant Robertson mouthed the rhetoric. He said it was a triumph for Labour. It was about giving Kiwi workers a fair go. But no-one is buying that, not even in the smoko room. Despite the rhetoric, Mondayisation makes no sense; it has no base in logic. If you are free to celebrate Anzac day on the day and yet still transfer the paid day off work, then it is undeniable that it is all about a day off work. Mondayisation means that the sacrifice of our soldiers over the decades is no more than an excuse to get another day off work on full pay. To get another one over on ‘the man.’
But despite the patronising attitude of David Clarke and Grant Robertson, the average worker in the average lunchroom does understand the economics that holidays cost, and eventually, workers pay. In some jobs the workload just does not go away and the employee has to work harder and faster to catch-up. In some there is a quantifiable loss of productivity. In all situations there is an increased cost; our tax-paid hospitals and schools will incur significantly extra costs that will come back to us the tax-payers. But we know that whether it is the employer or the taxman, one way or another, sooner or later, the extra wage costs or loss of productivity costs will be felt in the nett wage packets of the employees. This we know. This knowledge will have been expressed in many lunchrooms around the country on Tuesday 28th April.
So you have to ask the basic question, has the Labour Party lost the smoko room? Prior to 2013, Anzac day was one of our uncompromised commemorative days. Anzac Day was sacrosanct. It remembered Kiwis who had made the sacrifices, above and beyond the call of national interest, to help bring stability to our world.
If Labour had asked those Kiwis who take Anzac day seriously, and that number grows each year, they would have heard to a man, woman or child, that this is a ultimately day of respect. If it was a paid holiday or if they had to take a day’s leave or an unpaid day to commemorate, this is about respect and they would be proud to make their own sacrifice on this day to honour our soldiers; our relatives. And although proud Kiwis would celebrate the day whether or not it was a paid holiday, employers have never begrudged that Anzac day is a paid holiday. But it makes no logical sense to say that if Anzac Day falls on a weekend when many would normally have had the day free anyway to celebrate, they can then celebrate it twice, on the actual day and again on the Monday.
Anzac Day is the 25th April. Not the 26th, not the 27th; it is the 25th! End of story.
Labour’s Mondayisation Bill undermines the nobility of Anzac Day. If Labour want to do some good for the working man or woman in NZ, let them take up the tougher battle; let them meet the challenge of gaining higher wages based on sustainable productivity and lower taxes. But maybe that is just too tough a challenge for the Labour theorists of Clarke and Robertson; men who have never had grease under their fingernails.
And so for what was little more than a political stunt, Labour have cheapened NZ’s most precious commemoration day. Unforgivable.