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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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37 Responses to
Spare a thought for those working this Christmas
dungfungus 10:46 am 22 Dec 15

rubaiyat said :

dungfungus 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”?

The only tweeting on this issue is from the lefties who are championing the cause of the “werkers”.
And if the hard working staff in the kitchen are underpaid then they are fools for accepting those conditions.

…and there I thought you were against strikes and industrial action to get better conditions!

…or just against workers, because you are not one.

Retirement is still work but we don’t get paid and we don’t get any days off.
There are workers and werkers. The first are lifters and the other are leaners.

JesterNoir 10:41 am 22 Dec 15

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.

dungfungus 8:30 am 22 Dec 15

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.

chewy14 6:46 am 22 Dec 15

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.

Why,

Are you suggesting people in service industries would do something unprofessional?

wildturkeycanoe 5:12 am 22 Dec 15

I thought our nation’s population was less than 50% Christian, so there are plenty of people who should have no qualms working Xmas holidays. I wouldn’t expect any sympathy for me if I had to work through Diwali or Ramadan.

gooterz 3:49 am 22 Dec 15

Wouldn’t it be rather than reducing pay the current rate would be spread out over regular hours.
There by giving more money to those working on part full time ans away from those on casual who dont particularly need it.

Those working public holidays usually are kids living at home.

My previous retail employer was told never to put anyone over 18 on Sundays as it cost too much. which meant that those over 18 never got to work those days.

So for those that need the money its a choice between working 6 days a week or 7 days a week with increased base rates.

rubaiyat 12:14 am 22 Dec 15

dungfungus 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”?

The only tweeting on this issue is from the lefties who are championing the cause of the “werkers”.
And if the hard working staff in the kitchen are underpaid then they are fools for accepting those conditions.

…and there I thought you were against strikes and industrial action to get better conditions!

…or just against workers, because you are not one.

farq 11:54 pm 21 Dec 15

all those people working in hospitality and service industries probably could not celebrate at home in their back garden anyway as the policies of the ALP over the last 15years have meant the only homes they can afford are either apartments or new houses on such tiny blocks that there is no garden.

they for sure need their penalty rates, otherwise how could they afford the ever increasing rates ACT home owners are burdened with.

Masquara 11:06 pm 21 Dec 15

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!

rubaiyat 10:31 pm 21 Dec 15

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.

dungfungus 10:24 pm 21 Dec 15

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”?

The only tweeting on this issue is from the lefties who are championing the cause of the “werkers”.
And if the hard working staff in the kitchen are underpaid then they are fools for accepting those conditions.

miz 8:19 pm 21 Dec 15

Yes Rubes I agree hospitality is a tough gig. Personally I think people working terrible hours deserve their penalty rates. And picking on those workers to reduce penalty rates is like picking off the weakest. Our society is, I thought, better than that. And the corporate world has recently been (even more clearly) seen to be tax dodging and prepared to exploit whatever they can get away with.
Saw Ms Cash on the news tonight and thought, ‘what a lawyer.’ And NOT in a good way.

rubaiyat 5:24 pm 21 Dec 15

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”?

Charlotte Harper 12:20 pm 21 Dec 15

Yes, I feel for those in retail and hospitality as well. We all expect the shops to be open till late on Christmas Eve and in some cases on Christmas Day, but that means everyone working in those outlets is missing out on the opportunity to be with their friends and family at this time of year.

gooterz 11:36 am 21 Dec 15

What sort of bad things will the gods do to those that don’t partake in sacrificing the humble turkey on Christmas?

Perhaps those that can’t celebrate the pagan celebration of the winter solstice, should celebrate the Roman holiday of Saturnalia.

Generally for those working in retail Christmas is the worst time of year.

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