A Service Sector Christmas Grinch

It isn’t nice to have to work on Christmas Day. It is something that has been required of essential services – water, police, fire, health service etc. However, I was surprised to visit my local garage to see a sign boasting it would be open for 4 hours tomorrow during LUNCHTIME (10am – 2pm). Personally I think it is a disgrace and promptly went to the other garage that is doing the decent thing and giving their staff Xmas day off. Am I just getting old or is it too much to expect that the service sector actually closes for a whole day?

  • Crataegus

    Fair Deal

    It is a disgrace, I also think we need to look at some of the 24-7 concepts and question both the need and the possible disadvantages. There should be more days where the default is that businesses (except essential services) are ALL closed. It is nothing to do with religion but give people an opportunity to spend the day with their children and ensure it is not spent in the shopping mall.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I’m inclined to agree with the sentiments expressed already. People should be entitled to a day off. Surely people do not need to be able to buy miscellaneous crap 365 days a year.

    NB, in the USA, and to a certain extent the UK, most things are open very much as normal at xmas, including pubs and restaurants. In the UK there are many restaurants advertising xmas dinner.

  • Rubicon

    Crataegus – when you draft that ban could you please ensure that Noel Edmunds is banned from Christmas TV too?

  • Pete Baker

    “when you draft that ban could you please ensure that Noel Edmunds is banned from Christmas TV too?”

    That or banned from life in general, Rubicon..

    Just saying.. ;o)

  • In multicultural societies people who don’t celebrate a given holiday can cover for those who do. The people on both sides of the border should consider this before beating up their local minority group.

    For your specific example FD – how about allowing the petrol pump to remain open for the nurses, firemen etc. to get to work but NOT the shop part. The National Lottery should shut down their network on the 25th etc. to ensure no sales on that day.

  • joeCanuck

    Not everyone is Christian.
    If there are those who are willing to work on Christmas day (and get a premium for doing so), fair enough.

  • Pete

    Yes, I don’t think there is any particular need to be so flabbergasted by such a move. Religious beliefs can still be practiced and celebrated with the service industry still operating.

    I really don’t see how it conflicts with Christmas Day apart from those who want life to stay the same forever and who want people to be forced into respecting Christmas, even if they don’t want to fully participate.

  • Cynic

    Oh how we look forward to a nice totalitarian state when the Government can tell everyone what to do and when to do it.

    You haven’t got children to spend the day with? Tough, you still can’t buy petrol / condoms / toilet duck if you want to spend the day doing that.

    Oh, and let’s lock up the swings too and ban kids on bikes / playing with toys in the street on Christmas Day. They should be with their parents and will only disturb the peace.

    But no need for a big debate on this one. People will vote with their feet. If it’s profitable the shops will be open; if it isn’t then next year they won’t be. That’s democracy in action!

  • fair_deal

    Some seem to have jumped to the conclusion that religion is the basis of the objection, why is this?

    Cynic

    “when the Government can tell everyone what to do and when to do it.”

    Government regulates lots of parts of our lifes.
    Try to buy leaded petrol.
    Try having a smoke in a pub in April 2007.
    Try to buy a handgun over the counter
    etc etc etc

  • Cahal

    “NB, in the USA, and to a certain extent the UK, most things are open very much as normal at xmas, including pubs and restaurants.”

    Untrue, in the major citiesd anyway. All the major department stores are closed. As are most of the grocery stores, which are closed early on Christmas eve. I wouldn’t know about pubs, me being a good Christian and all that.

    “Try to buy leaded petrol.
    Try having a smoke in a pub in April 2007.
    Try to buy a handgun over the counter ”

    Yes, all on the same level as a 17 year old pocketing a few extra quid by getting triple time on Christmas day.
    It’s really nobody else’s business unless the person working on Christmas day is being forced to.

  • mcgrath

    Cant there ever be just one day off? What the fuck has Christ / Jesus / Hanuka got to do with it. Even across the trenches in WW1 an WW2, it was a (somewhat) time out.

    If you need to buy petrol on Christmas day, then you need to plan better. If something unexpected happens, borrow your protestant / catholic neighbors car, there would be no refusal.

  • Comrade Stalin

    joeCanuck, I am not a Christian. People have had some kind of celebration at this time of the year for millenia, long before it was appropriated by Christianity.

    It’s a bit of a joke to believe that Christmas is anything to do with religion anymore anyway. The period is characterized by greed and gluttony. But what we do have to respect is that fact that it is traditionally a time for friends and family to get together, and as such I think people should be allowed a few days off to celebrate it.

  • Cynic

    Fair Deal

    Leaded Petrol poisons people
    Secondary Cigarette Smoke kills people
    Guns Kill People

    Buying a loaf of bread at Tesco’s dosnt kill or poison people. If the state can stop you doing that, what else do you agree it should control? When you have sex? How many children you can have? When and where you can travel?

    We are now swamped with new laws and prohibitions. We have, for example, criminalised large sections of the motoring public. People are arrested for picking wild berries to make a small quantity of Jam. Put the wrong type of recycled material in the wrong bin and the council will have you in court.

    We have more convicted “criminals” than ever before and to what end? What’s the state for and, in the absence of a written constitution, what are the limits on its power?

  • fair_deal

    Cahal

    “Yes, all on the same level as a 17 year old pocketing a few extra quid by getting triple time on Christmas day.”

    You obviously have a very high opinion of how the service sector treats its workers.

  • Interesting in a country so insistent on promoting christianity the United States plays NFL and NBA games on the 25th.

  • cynic

    Mark – Business is business

  • Crataegus

    Cynic

    There is more to life than the retail experience, or are you so poorly organised that you can’t organise your shopping in advance or fill your car on the 24th. Or are you addicted to the shopping Mall?

    There is a big difference between a self employed person deciding to work on a particular day and an employer deciding the employees should work. Imagine an employer approached you and asked you, “Cynic fancy working Christmas?” What thoughts go through your mind? How does this affect future promotion? Can I really say no? Will I be viewed as an awkward employee?

    Also do sales have to start on Boxing day? Are we so pathetic that we cannot imagine life without shopping? If so what a miserable acquisitive lot! Get a life!

    Holidays are about giving people a bit of time when they can meet friends and family. For me there should be a greater number of days like this in the year, if they are religious festivals as well , Christian or non Christian it’s fine with me.

    Also ever talked to the owner of the local newsagent? Open say 7am ever day and perhaps closing 8pm? Most welcome a day off! Its only sad bastards that proudly advertise we are open 365 days a year. With these sad individuals it’s a kind of peeing contest.

    Many businesses just don’t need to be open 24 hours a day 7 days a week. I actually think it is more efficient for the economy if they don’t!

    Of course it is not as simple as the initial idea. It’s not just essential services that must stay open but also businesses like hotels. That said we could go a long way to move attitudes away from retail experiences.

    Stop being so selfish and think of others. Also remember it is highly unlikely that anything we now buy is made in this country so transferring expenditure from retail and imports to recreation is good for the economy. It is also probably good for our health.

  • Crataegus

    On the matter of efficiency in the economy, imagine a shop that has a turnover of £2400 a day. If it opens 24 hours it’s £100 per hour. If however it can achieve that trade between 8 am and 8 pm it is £200 per hour. Given that rental and rates are fixed it is still more expensive and less efficient to open 24 hour. Of course what you are trying to do is increase market share and turnover, but what we have to ask is this good for the economy generally?

    If we have near full employment this practice is sucking people into jobs that are potentially inefficient when viewed from a national point of view and by reducing the size of the labour market it is potentially forcing up the cost. Though that said wages in retail are pathetic. We whinge about too large a state sector, but seldom seem to worry if parts of the service sector are also more than a bit flabby. Seems inconsistent to me.

  • cynic

    Dear Crataegus

    Oh what a hissy fit. Read what I said and try to think about some of the issues rather than just rant and make wild assumptions about people.

    I dont care about shopping whenever. I do care about people having the freedom to do what they want to do – and that includes people who run businesses.

    Lots of people do want to work on Christmas or dont mind working for various reasons. For some – like the emergency services – it’s just part of the job. For others who arent Christian, it may be just another day to them. You seem remarkably blind to the fact that more and more of the population have completely different cultures to yours or mine. They have the right – within reasonable limits – to do things their way and work and live as they want. They dont have to do it your way just because you think you are right.

    Strangely too it only seems to be shops that annoy you….did your Mammy lose you in a Supermarket one day and do you need counselling? If we follow your logic should all the ISPs close down at Christmas because of all the wage slaves forced to work to keep the servers going? What about the telephone networks except for 999 calls? Anyone else you would like to dictate to?

    Finally a little quote:-

    “The hawthorn is considered a fairy tree and it considered highly unlucky to cut down or otherwise disturb the tree except for the plucking of branches on May eve.”

    From your post I can see why!

  • Crataegus

    Cynic

    I must confess retail does bother me, or rather the glorification off retail and consumerism generally. I refuse to believe it creates any wealth as the amount of disposable income is dictated by other factors. Retail is a sector that just does not need to be open all the time.

    If a factory stays open and produces wing nuts 24-7-365 days a year it is maximising the use of plant and society is wealthier, but difficult to make the same argument for retail and indeed there is the counter argument about unnecessarily using labour in a society that has labour shortages.

    By the way I am not Christian, and as far as I am concern I am willing to go with the flow depending on what country I am in. I think it adds to the charm of the place and the experience. Not for one minute do I want us to return to the NI Sunday nightmare with closed playgrounds, but I would like to see more days where we in society do not expect businesses to be open. That attitude is selfish.

    You mention choice, but I am not so sure many really do have a choice. When I talk to my local newsagent or grocer (no I don’t shop in Tesco if I can source elsewhere) I get an impression that they feel relieved to be off and the reason why they are not closed more often is because we expect them to be open Saturdays and Sundays and in many ways I think that is unreasonable. For employees the position is worse.

    Many people have to work and some may want to, but I would simple like to see a default position for a few more days in the year to be that business is closed.

    I say all this as someone who is if you like working. It is very early morning here. I have not returned home for Christmas as travelling many thousands of miles each way is just impractical and the break is useful for me to get up to speed on a certain project. However that is me deciding for myself what I want to do, not me deciding what others are doing which is something that I could very easily impose. January 2nd will be soon enough to see what I can do to ensure others make progress and stick to programme. Don’t underestimate the value of a break in increasing productivity.

    As for the hawthorn the blossom in May is mighty fine, but the thorns are there all year.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Cratageus: “It is a disgrace, I also think we need to look at some of the 24-7 concepts and question both the need and the possible disadvantages. There should be more days where the default is that businesses (except essential services) are ALL closed. It is nothing to do with religion but give people an opportunity to spend the day with their children and ensure it is not spent in the shopping mall. ”

    And who, pray tell, should tell the people what they ought and ought not do, Crataegus?

    Likewise, if it has “noting to do with religion,” why, pray tell, should an atheist, an animist or anyone else who is not Christian even want the day off?

    Assuming, arguendo, that there is a pay differential for working the holidays, as is common in the states, would you deny some poor fellow the opportunity for double-time simply because that the fellow even has this opportunity offends your sensitivities?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    FD:
    “Government regulates lots of parts of our lifes.
    Try to buy leaded petrol.
    Try having a smoke in a pub in April 2007.
    Try to buy a handgun over the counter ”

    So we should just cede to government control over whatever aspects of our lives they want to manipulate? By your logic, whatever the good shepherds wants should be rendered up on the basis of previous surrender.

    Bleat louder, sheeple, I can’t hear you.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Cahal: “Untrue, in the major citiesd anyway. All the major department stores are closed. As are most of the grocery stores, which are closed early on Christmas eve. I wouldn’t know about pubs, me being a good Christian and all that. ”

    On the basis of what are commonly known as “blue laws.” These are slowly withering on the vine — one can even legally purchase alcohol in formerly Puritan Massachusetts on the Sabbath.

    mcgrath: “Cant there ever be just one day off? What the fuck has Christ / Jesus / Hanuka got to do with it. Even across the trenches in WW1 an WW2, it was a (somewhat) time out. ”

    And must be the same day for everybody? And should the state have the power to wave their wand and declare thusly?

  • Crataegus

    Dread
    ” why, pray tell, should an atheist, an animist or anyone else who is not Christian even want the day off?

    Dread ,my old son, that statement says so much about you. For myself I don’t care if it is Christmas, Thanks Giving, May Day or mid summers eve, all societies should have times that are different, that allow us to stop, a time when people can meet and keep in touch. A time to relax or let off steam. If I am in a country and it is one of their special days I go with the flow. I don’t expect to be waited on or that all services are as normal. If it is fasting during the hours of daylight then I don’t eat. It is respecting others beliefs (providing they are harmless) even if I think it is a load of cobblers. Good policy to be aware of others sensitivities, something the US is just so hopeless at.

    who, pray tell, should tell the people what they ought and ought not do,
    Well I am sure there are those who would like to work for less than the minimum wage. but who denies them the ability to earn a crust by working more competitively? There are also those who see economic salvation in the ‘oldest’ profession, is it better they starve? If we are going to start on what governments do that I disagree with try pointless wastes of money like ID cards or renewing trident. I deeply resent paying for such obscenity, but the government decrees I must.

    If we follow your line why have any national or Bank holidays? What a world that would be.

    Also as stated previously, yes I do want to set up a system where people actually do have a choice for in my experience quite a few work anti social shifts because they have no option.

    And must be the same day for everybody? And should the state have the power to wave their wand and declare thusly?

    Yes actually a few do, because it means a high percentage are off and people who may not otherwise meet do. It also means the day is different it is quieter, more relaxing.

    Look I know you’re really an old softy under that gruff exterior. Prosperous new year.

  • kensei

    “Assuming, arguendo, that there is a pay differential for working the holidays, as is common in the states, would you deny some poor fellow the opportunity for double-time simply because that the fellow even has this opportunity offends your sensitivities?”

    I have certain sympathy for this view. It is similar to the European working hours directive. However, the flipside to allowing people who want to work the chance, is that you inevitably create people that don’t want to work but have to – either through employer pressure, simply being trapped in poverty and having to, or god knows what else. The problem extends itself also. The more this becomes accepted practice, the more employers also try to push out the double time to time and half, to time. Society can pay in other ways too in such scenarios.

    It’s a difficult problem, and not one to be dismissed lightly, I think.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Crataegus: “Dread ,my old son, that statement says so much about you. For myself I don’t care if it is Christmas, Thanks Giving, May Day or mid summers eve, all societies should have times that are different, that allow us to stop, a time when people can meet and keep in touch. A time to relax or let off steam.”

    Already exists — for most they are called “the weekend.” They are also called “vacations.” Now, up until recently, they predominant days for mandated vacations are archaic matters — schools start and end when they do more as a hold-over from agrarian days and “tradition” as anything else, for example.

    However, I repeat — if one is not Christian, why should they worry about someone being offended because they work Christmas?

    Crataegus: “Well I am sure there are those who would like to work for less than the minimum wage. but who denies them the ability to earn a crust by working more competitively? There are also those who see economic salvation in the ‘oldest’ profession, is it better they starve? If we are going to start on what governments do that I disagree with try pointless wastes of money like ID cards or renewing trident. I deeply resent paying for such obscenity, but the government decrees I must.”

    I could give you the economic answer — when you artificially buoy upward the cost of good — which includes labor, you shift the curve and make other alternatives favorable, be that alternative automation or a reduction in service.

    As for your objection to military expenditures — you’re a pacifist, why should the military or government give a fig what you want? You have ceded them all the tools and rights to violence, if shove really meets push, what, pray tell, are you going to do? And why should they care?

    Crataegus: “Yes actually a few do, because it means a high percentage are off and people who may not otherwise meet do. It also means the day is different it is quieter, more relaxing. ”

    Nice — now answer the question — I did not ask “do they,” I asked “should they.”

    As for the latter — just keep following the shepherd’s lead… if you’re lucky, you’ll only be shorn.

    Crataegus: “Prosperous new year. ”

    One certainly hopes… and to you.

    Kensei: “However, the flipside to allowing people who want to work the chance, is that you inevitably create people that don’t want to work but have to – either through employer pressure, simply being trapped in poverty and having to, or god knows what else. ”

    And how is not working going to aid them is escaping poverty, Kensei? As noted elsewhere in this thread, should we close everything on a given day, just because someone would be offended if we did not? Hospitals? Police stations and emergency services? Hell, many in these professions live on their holiday overtime.

  • Crataegus

    Dread

    All societies set limits on us and some of them such as holidays I think fairly harmless. My acquiescing to militaristic expenditure and intrusive ID schemes is OK with you, but acquiescing to harmless religious festivals are not? I would rather be denied my right to work on a day than be forced to work longer because I have to pay for something that is obscene.

    Weekends are increasingly like any other day and increasingly more people have to work, like it or not, Saturday and Sunday. Concepts about wider family responsibilities are important particularly if you have young children.

    when you artificially buoy upward the cost of good—which includes labor, you shift the curve and make other alternatives favorable, be that alternative automation or a reduction in service.

    I take it this was in reply to the minimum wage and not the ‘right’ to perhaps engage in prostitution!

    Hell will freeze over before you and I agree on this our outlooks are different. Best to agree to disagree.

    Kensei

    I agree, it is a difficult and far from simple matter. A lot of people are required to work unsocial hours as a condition of employment. Also a lot are forced to work because society expects them to be open. In many cases I am not sure if it is either good for society or the economy.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Crataegus: “All societies set limits on us and some of them such as holidays I think fairly harmless. My acquiescing to militaristic expenditure and intrusive ID schemes is OK with you, but acquiescing to harmless religious festivals are not?”

    National defense is one of the few “common goods” that the government has, potentially, a useful role. While, ideally, I would prefer to see things turned back to a pre-WW II basis — a small professional army with far larger reserves — it is one of the few areas that cannot be entrusted to individual states.

    And I am not objecting to the “harmless acquiescing of religious festivals.” I am objecting to state micromanagement of individuals lives.

    Crataegus: “I take it this was in reply to the minimum wage and not the ‘right’ to perhaps engage in prostitution! ”

    I assumed you would have the mother wit to realize which I was referring to. Did I err?

    If you want a discourse in oldest profession, I would say that, outside of “common goods” — public health, workplace standards, etc., that prostitution is not a matter for the state’s concern. I don’t endorse it as a career path, but would simply point out there are those who do choose it where it is legal and regulated.

    Crataegus: “Hell will freeze over before you and I agree on this our outlooks are different. Best to agree to disagree. ”

    Hardly — you have made persuasive arguments in the past.

    On this, perhaps you are right — you seem to prefer over-regulation to freedom. We live in a world where the state tells you what to do, what not to do, what to eat, what not to eat… In the UK, they are now proposing to discriminate in the NHS is you don’t do what the state tells you to do, despite past promises and citizen’s monetary sacrifices in the name of that promise. Would you endorse that, or would that be a field too far?

    Crataegus: “I agree, it is a difficult and far from simple matter. A lot of people are required to work unsocial hours as a condition of employment. Also a lot are forced to work because society expects them to be open. In many cases I am not sure if it is either good for society or the economy. ”

    And it is the employees choice to take the job, especially in the UK, where, at least in some areas, “voluntary poverty” would appear, by some studies, to be a viable option. You take the job, you take the good and the bad. As for those who work unsocial hours, I think there are a great many who do so you take for granted.

  • kensei

    “And how is not working going to aid them is escaping poverty, Kensei?”

    I’m not necessarily suggesting shutting everything as I said, I have some sympathy with your view. But there needs to be some strong protections in place.

    You run the risk of creating an underclass that must work and becomes disconnected from the rest of society. Even a watered down version of that may incur costs beyond merely economic ones. You tell me how that is a good idea.

    You know DC, I smell the stink of ideologue off you. You aren’t actually engaging your brain or considering the issues or actually reading what I’m saying and instead just endlessly repeating whatever right wing views you’ve been told. I have startingly little time for that.

    “As noted elsewhere in this thread, should we close everything on a given day, just because someone would be offended if we did not?”

    I wasn’t even remotely suggesting a religious argument. It could also be noted in the past that almost everything shut a few select days of the year and the world failed to collapse. It could be speculated whether or not that was preferable; I’m not entirely sure either way. People do need time off, they aren’t machines.

    “Hospitals? Police stations and emergency services? Hell, many in these professions live on their holiday overtime.”

    Straw man. Come back with a proper argument.

  • Cahal

    Kensei
    “whatever right wing views you’ve been told”

    I’d say he is coming from a more libertarian stand point on the issue. The Right seem to have given up on the ‘no government interference’ a long time ago.

  • Crataegus

    Dread

    I assumed you would have the mother wit to realize which I was referring to. Did I err?

    Of course I do, it is just that if applied to the oldest profession the sentence appealed to my sad, schoolboy sense of humour. when you artificially buoy upward the cost of goods—which includes labor, you shift the curve and make other alternatives favorable, be that alternative automation or a reduction in service. As for prostitution you are unlikely to get rid of it, so better to accept that inevitability and address the issues you mention.

    Strangely we both want to see a reduction in state intrusion and the role of the state. The difference is the areas where we would like to see reductions.

    You mention potential discrimination in the NHS, should we refuse to operate on the obese or a smoker, my gut reaction is that is a path we shouldn’t go down but it is just not that simple. If we have limited resources do we concentrate them on where success is most likely? But then again if everyone is contributing then all should have access to an equal service. The problem is our contract with the state and the level of service on offer is unclear at the outset and that leads to misunderstanding and dissatisfaction.

    Kensei has made the points I wish to better than I have, and given its about 1 30 am here and my access to surfing (of the electronic kind) is limited to times I log on to my server back at base best to leave you both to it. Looks like postal vote for me come March.

  • BeardyBoy

    if we were not under the yoke of the capitalist we could all make real free decisions regarding wh we work for, when and for how much – to get real freedom and choice we should work towards this end – freedom of choice can only come this way. Then we would be all able to choose what day to work or not

  • kensei

    “I’d say he is coming from a more libertarian stand point on the issue. The Right seem to have given up on the ‘no government interference’ a long time ago.”

    Heh. Only on social problems. Not when you know, there’s money involved. But that’s beside the point. Apparently the issue is just black and white.

    Just while I’m here:

    “when you artificially buoy upward the cost of goods—which includes labor, you shift the curve and make other alternatives favorable, be that alternative automation or a reduction in service.”

    The classic argument about automation is that the jobs lost will be compensated and then some by the new technology that develops. If, in fact, we are not pursuing progress because it is so cheap to exploit human capital, then that is a serious problem. Sufficient competition should take care of the second point.

  • fair_deal

    Cynic

    Shall I instead list all the emplyment acts that are presently in effect?

    DC

    Giving staff a day off I do not consider a fundamental attack on freedom.

  • cynic

    Fair Deal

    List all you like. Doesn’t change the issues!

    I agree that Giving Staff a Day off isnt a fundamental attack on freedom. Being forced to give them the day off or being forced to take a day off for a religous holiday that you have no interest in may be.

  • fair_deal

    Cynic

    Fine go stuff a child up your chimney and sack your pregnant worker in the name of freedom on Christmas