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Spare a thought for those working this Christmas

By Kim Fischer 21 December 2015 37

Santa teddy bear toy on sheepskin near illuminated christmas tree

Christmas is more commercial than ever. It seems that shops are more and more desperate to get us to spend big on presents, but there is little meaning behind the glitz. Even the Christian message about the birth of Jesus barely gets a mention.

There are cultures where Christmas is just another festival the way that a Westerner might think of Diwali or Ramadan. And sometimes things get lost in translation: for example, 40 years ago a KFC marketing campaign went viral with the result that in Japan, Christmas is now commonly celebrated with a bucket of KFC chicken.

There used to be a tradition of helping out vulnerable people at Christmas – in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge is scorned because of his unwillingness to help out Christmas charity collectors. Christmas should be a time where we come together to care for each other as a community, not just an exchange of gifts that are soon forgotten.

Unfortunately, if you don’t fit the mould of the traditional happy Western family with jobs that allow time off at this time of year, Christmas can be a difficult and isolating experience.

More than anything else, spare a thought for those dedicated workers and volunteers who are there for people who need care, and to pick up the pieces when Christmas really doesn’t go to plan for the rest of us. Babies still get born, people still have accidents, our elderly still need care. Whether they are police, paramedics, doctors, or nurses, some people simply don’t get to spend Christmas Day at home.

In fact, emergency services workers are extra busy over the holiday period as the combination of alcohol and the stress of family gatherings can lead to a spike in violence-related callouts. Crisis services have to focus on the most urgent cases for support and ignore the rest as the bureaucracy of government shuts down between Christmas and New Year. And in a sad twist, just being lonely makes people up to 60% more likely to visit the Emergency Department for company.

Others volunteer on Christmas Day to ensure that people without families or little money to celebrate can still feel included. In Canberra, the St John’s Care Christmas Day Community Lunch – feeding hundreds of people – aims to make sure “no one has to spend Christmas Day alone”. Next year they will have been doing it for 15 years – a new Canberra tradition worth preserving. Volunteering and Contact ACT also maintain a list of other places that people can go for company and free food on Christmas Day.

It’s easy to forget the truly important things in life in the hustle and bustle of Christmas. This year, if you are going to be celebrating Christmas as part of a loving family and community where people are safe and healthy, that is a true blessing worth celebrating. Anything else is just ornamentation on the Christmas tree.

Kim Fischer is an ACT Labor candidate for the seat of Ginninderra in the 2016 ACT Legislative Assembly election.

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Spare a thought for those working this Christmas
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dungfungus 3:55 pm 31 Dec 15

John Hargreaves said :

Some of these posts are really inappropriate. the issue is the deprivation of a family get together, whether people are paid for that deprivation or not. I have some sympathy for those who have to work during Diwali and other specific feast days and think they should be remunerated for it.

But the real issue is the absence of someone from their families at a time when we try to underscore the importance of families in our lives.

I served a few meals at Christmas time at hostels for the residents who were their through dire circumstances and for whom family life was not an option. I met people who did that year in and year out. They are the real saints of this world.

As for the hospitality workers and security guys, the ambos, nurses, hospital doctors and coppers, they deserve our thoughts too. That we can enjoy ourselves in a safe environment, is down to them.

I say a big thanks to them.

Oh… by the way – save a special celebration at this time for the dairy industry. This is the time we celebrate the birth of the baby cheeses….

Lucky you can still mock the Christians John.
There are some cultures that wouldn’t tolerate that sort of slur on their “religious” leader..

rubaiyat 10:04 am 31 Dec 15

HenryBG said :

rubaiyat said :

gazket said :

Unfortunately Labor/Greens are doing their best for us to be rid of all western traditions and only accept ethnic traditions because white people are the suppressors and only good for money.

Awwww, the poor persecuted “white people”. Doing it tough.

Is there a local chapter of Aryan Nation?

Just reading SPQR and the constant battle between the Patricians and the Plebians. Thousands of years later and we are still have to suffer the people who imagine they are above everyone else because they cleverly got born into the Right group.

Which is the “right group”?
Would it be the group that comprised 30% of the world’s population early last century but only 15% of it now?
And why the weird shift into top gear of accusations of racism just because somebody indicates they are quite happy with the traditions that currently pertain in their homeland and not so interested in the traditions of other cultures that pertain elsewhere in countries that people mostly are desperate to escape from?

Are we talking Aboriginal “traditions” or only the ones YOU fancy.

Personally I am very interested in “other” cultures. I represent quite a few of them myself and don’t mind people who aren’t simply a mirror image of ME.

HenryBG 1:55 pm 30 Dec 15

rubaiyat said :

gazket said :

Unfortunately Labor/Greens are doing their best for us to be rid of all western traditions and only accept ethnic traditions because white people are the suppressors and only good for money.

Awwww, the poor persecuted “white people”. Doing it tough.

Is there a local chapter of Aryan Nation?

Just reading SPQR and the constant battle between the Patricians and the Plebians. Thousands of years later and we are still have to suffer the people who imagine they are above everyone else because they cleverly got born into the Right group.

Which is the “right group”?
Would it be the group that comprised 30% of the world’s population early last century but only 15% of it now?
And why the weird shift into top gear of accusations of racism just because somebody indicates they are quite happy with the traditions that currently pertain in their homeland and not so interested in the traditions of other cultures that pertain elsewhere in countries that people mostly are desperate to escape from?

justin heywood 10:03 am 30 Dec 15

Sandman said :

Hey, some of us go to the family function, don’t get paid double time (or anything) and still have to put up with those insufferable people.

Ha. Reminds me of a letter I saw this week saying that the best Christmas lights he saw this year were the taillights of his relatives disappearing down the drive.

Sandman 3:37 pm 28 Dec 15

rubaiyat said :

The waiting staff will however be getting their double time and I do not begrudge them that because without it they would be home with their families enjoying their Christmas and not having to put up with the frequently insufferably ungrateful people who think they are the centre of existence.

Hey, some of us go to the family function, don’t get paid double time (or anything) and still have to put up with those insufferable people.

I miss the days of working Christmas. Used to get paid triple time, work till 6, arrive at Christmas dinner just as it was starting, then an hour of cricket and done for the day. Now the entire day is hard work and costs a fortune instead.

maxblues 1:13 am 26 Dec 15

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all the ambos, firies and coppers that have got me out of trouble over the years. Really…thanks.

rubaiyat 2:38 pm 25 Dec 15

Masquara said :

rubaiyat said :

My son will be cooking on Christmas Day for the very people who lounge drunkenly on their well fed posteriors tweeting, in their generous free time, at the injustice of workers getting penalty rates.

Thanks to his career we never see him for our traditional family Christmas.

How many actually thank the hard working, underpaid staff in the kitchen as they leave after a “Great night out”?

Underpaid? On Christmas late-night penalty rates? Give us a break!

Not the first time you won’t know what you are talking about.

My son is Head Chef and is salaried. He is now working working quite a few more shifts for exactly the same salary as a year and a half ago.

The waiting staff will however be getting their double time and I do not begrudge them that because without it they would be home with their families enjoying their Christmas and not having to put up with the frequently insufferably ungrateful people who think they are the centre of existence.

rubaiyat 9:33 am 25 Dec 15

Long line of “Lifters” here on Palm Beach, in their Chrissie swimmers, waiting for those useless “Leaners” to serve them their morning espresso.

rubaiyat 9:10 am 25 Dec 15

gazket said :

Unfortunately Labor/Greens are doing their best for us to be rid of all western traditions and only accept ethnic traditions because white people are the suppressors and only good for money.

Awwww, the poor persecuted “white people”. Doing it tough.

Is there a local chapter of Aryan Nation?

Just reading SPQR and the constant battle between the Patricians and the Plebians. Thousands of years later and we are still have to suffer the people who imagine they are above everyone else because they cleverly got born into the Right group.

gazket 1:59 pm 24 Dec 15

Unfortunately Labor/Greens are doing their best for us to be rid of all western traditions and only accept ethnic traditions because white people are the suppressors and only good for money.

watto23 11:42 am 24 Dec 15

Mysteryman said :

watto23 said :

People should also realise that the 25th of december is technically nothing to do with religion itself. The date itself was used by greeks and indians for celebrations before Christians used it. Its also generally well known to historians and theologists that Jesus was not actually born on the 25th of December and the date was chosen due to the fact it timed so well with other celebrations around the world.

And non-religious people should realise that just about everyone already knows this. It’s not news to anyone. But the reason that Christmas as a celebration exists and is celebrated the way it is, *is* because of religion – specifically Christianity – and it’s prevalence in Western/European cultures.

Yes of course, but how many celebrate it for religious reasons? very few I’d suggest. I mean I doubt the 50% of australians who say they are of Catholic or Christianity religion actually go to any church, although many do only go to xmas and easter masses.

Basically if someone chooses to or is needed to work at xmas we should all be thankful to them for providing a service on xmas day, whatever that may be. I’m going to be oncall for my job over xmas and NYE. I had a choice of sorts, but I also don’t have kids, so offered to do it. Chances are I won’t be called. Nothing gets me more upset than ungrateful people who think their world is so aweful and yet have no perspective on what many other people are going through and this is a good time of year to be aware of that and thankful most Canberrans live a very good life.

HenryBG 1:38 am 23 Dec 15

gooterz said :

What about those employers whom choose not to open on Sundays. They gain an additional day of trade at no additional cost to them.

Employers are free to choose to gain that “additional day of trade” anytime they like. They just have to be prepared to pay the additional wages it takes to run their (presumably profitable) business on that day.

gooterz 11:42 pm 22 Dec 15

HenryBG said :

gooterz said :

Wouldn’t it be rather than reducing pay the current rate would be spread out over regular hours.

What would be the benefit of that, to the employer?

None.
That argument is a smokescreen for the reality that this “debate” is all about producing an overall reduction in workers’ incomes.

At a time when home ownership is falling and corporations become ever more brazen about dodging tax, focusing in on attacking workers’ wages is dishonest and irresponsible.

What about those employers whom choose not to open on Sundays. They gain an additional day of trade at no additional cost to them. Employees would have more choice on the days they worked. Many uni students could work on weekends where currently many places understaff junior employees on Sundays. A sunday whole day a uni student could work yet they are disadvantaged because of the cost of pay.

Employers gain more flexability of rostering staff and additional day of trade.

Staff can earn more because of additional days of trade and increased economy. Those would stuffer would be those 15/16 year olds but you could argue that they don’t really need the money. Most working 15/16 year olds live at home. Perhaps it would slow them down slightly from moving out and reduce pressure on the rental market and also improving their studies.

customers get to enjoy an extra day trade and takes pressure off the other days.
Anyone who has been to SA knows rhat they don’t open much of anything on Sundays and its a real dent in their economy.

And to john: if families need a specific day to force them to be together perhaps they have more other serious issues to address. Do you have any issues with staff working 24 hour stores? surely they wouldnt have much family time…

rubaiyat 6:33 pm 22 Dec 15

The way some people talk you would think we have a problem.

Australia has an amazingly vibrant and long hour retailing and hospitality culture. Better than most places around the world.

We also have relatively low unemployment with employees reasonably satisfied with getting paid for what they do.

The only ones who seem to have a problem are the ones who have a general problem of insatiable greed that can never be satisfied unless they have made some one else miserable.

Stupidly they haven’t considered what happens when, like in America their employees can’t make ends meet or are so underpaid that they don’t care anymore and the whole society goes into a slow spiral downwards.

tuco 4:40 pm 22 Dec 15

rubaiyat said :

dungfungus said :

rubaiyat said :

It has occurred to me that the only fair way to handle this is if you strongly believe that people who have to work unsociable hours for low pay should NOT get penalty rates, tell them BEFORE they take your order or serve you.

I used to do this sort of work when I was a young person, one of two part time jobs I had. I was grateful to get the work and the wages were on par with anything else going at the time.
After 3 years of this discipline I had saved enough money to pay the one third minimum deposit required for a house ( there was sensible financial regulation in those days). I couldn’t afford a car and used to walk everywhere as you do in a country town.
Today’s young people should stop whining and toughen up.
You wan’t double time? Try working twice as hard then.

Am I right in assuming that back then shops closed at 12 on Saturday and you were hard put to find somewhere to eat in Canberra on Sunday?

When I was a student (part time), I had a full time job, moonlighted with my art, and waited nights and weekends. Due to the insistence of the restaurant, the later was cash in hand, as was my wife’s when she did it. Perhaps that is how you so rapidly got your, much cheaper, house deposit?

That’s no comfort to “Today’s young people” who work extra-ordinary hours at one job, which you could barely imagine when you were young, and are having to pay all the taxes that the businesses avoid.

Create the working poor and the Government will have to support them like in the USA’s system of Socialism for Capitalists.

The comfort of the old, is to choose what to conveniently forget, and resent the young who serve them but have slim chance of saving the deposit for the house they can not afford, that is nowhere near walking distance of anywhere.

What happened to the sanction? Is it over already?

dungfungus 3:51 pm 22 Dec 15

JesterNoir said :

dungfungus said :

I used to do this sort of work when I was a young person, one of two part time jobs I had. I was grateful to get the work and the wages were on par with anything else going at the time.
After 3 years of this discipline I had saved enough money to pay the one third minimum deposit required for a house ( there was sensible financial regulation in those days). I couldn’t afford a car and used to walk everywhere as you do in a country town.
Today’s young people should stop whining and toughen up.
You wan’t double time? Try working twice as hard then.

You couldn’t afford a car, but could afford a home deposit?
You could buy 2 cars for the cost of a minimum deposit on a house now.
And, as we don’t live in a country town, walking to work is not an option.

Perhaps things have changed since you were young.

Of course things have changed and not necessarily for the better.
At that time, all finance was regulated and controlled and a used car on hire purchase required one third deposit. Personal loans were not invented then. Personal debt was not even a statistic.
These days parents seen to be able to cater for their children’s’ transport needs and personal debt in Australia is probably per capita the largest in the world.

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