Retail workers feel "obliged" to work on Easter Sunday because of fears they will miss out on promotions, pay rises or letting their colleagues down, First Union says.
Napier City Council is hearing oral submissions on whether to allow shops to open on Easter Sunday for the second time, after its earlier decision to allow it was overturned by the High Court, which ruled the council failed to properly consult on the issue the first time round.
Sixty-eight percent of the 177 written submissions to the council on its policy were against Easter Sunday trading.
First Union organiser Mike McNab urged councillors not to allow shops to open, because many low-wage workers found it difficult to say no when asked to work on Easter Sunday by their employer.
"They feel obliged to. Workers will be told that he or she is not a team player, they may be passed over for promotion and may not get performance-based pay rises ... and I've seen that."
Many retail workers in Napier were only guaranteed to have three-and-a-half days off a year, and those days needed to be protected, Mr McNab said.
Representatives from the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa and the Trinity Methodist Church urged the council not to adopt the policy, arguing that family time on these important Christian festival days was important and should be valued.
A survey by Napier City Business of 251 retailers found 71 percent were in favour of having the option of being open, and 59 percent of those would consider opening on Easter Sunday.
Retail New Zealand said not allowing shops in Napier to open on Easter Sunday denied businesses and their customers a choice.
Presenting its submission to councillors this morning, Retail NZ general manager of public affairs Greg Harford said shopping was a pastime enjoyed by many families on Easter Sunday.
"Family and whānau time is important, and shopping is part of that pastime. It's not the only pastime that makes up family time ... but it is part of it."
Research by Neilsen two years ago showed that over the past two years "a little over half the population had done some sort of commercial activity" on Easter Sunday, Mr Harford said.
Council will debate the policy this afternoon.