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A good honest day’s not work


By Gerald Ford

Labour Weekend has come and gone, by the time these words reach readers.
It’s the last holiday before the big one — a long weekend for those of us fortunate enough to have it.
Holidays in New Zealand are all a bit random and accidents of history.
Labour Day commemorates workers in New Zealand winning the right to an eight-hour day, something well worth celebrating.
This makes it stand out from the other holidays, and I would suggest that for this reason it is the most honest state-sanctified holiday of the lot.
Christmas is all about presents and family, Easter about chocolate, New Year’s Day a day to recover from Auld Lang Syne, and Queen’s Birthday about well, whatever you feel like doing that weekend.
That pretty much leaves the national identity holidays of Waitangi Day (known at my place as our wedding anniversary) and Anzac Day.
Then there are the regional anniversaries, as if wishing the region you happen to live in a happy birthday were the purpose of the day.
All of these days, however, share the common feature of a day off work, provided the employer can spare the worker’s presence for a day or two.
The only one that is straightforward about the real purpose of a public holiday — that of not working — is Labour Day.
The fight for Easter trading, among other things, is to me not a religious battle at all.
It comes down to companies’ right to turn a profit, and Joe or Jo Public’s right to go shopping, as against the right of the poor old worker to have a weekend off with his or her family or friends. Religious or irreligious arguments should not even come into it.
We are privileged in New Zealand to have a great collection of paid holidays to celebrate, and to be compensated if our workplaces do require us to be there.
Some newspaper reporters will be on duty, as will emergency services.
As for these last, while it is great to have them on standby, I am hoping they will not be needed for any serious clean-ups on Wairarapa roads, although as I write there was a Friday afternoon crash on State Highway 2 north of Masterton.
If you didn’t manage to rest from your labours on Labour Day this year, I trust you will have a chance to do so shortly.
And also that the next two months are not wasted in a holiday frazzle as we head towards the nation’s next big day off.

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