If you pay attention to anyone on the conservative side of politics in Australia recently, you will notice that one of their favourite topics of conversation is how much should people be paid if they have to work on the weekend.
In their opinion, every day is the same and the weekend no longer exists in modern day society, so therefore any government regulation of private business is an infringement on their individual’s right to make a profit.
Paying people more during the weekends (plus times such as evenings and nights) is a millstone around the neck of business and this money should be reinvested into making a profit.
I’ve always found this idea that the whole conservative discussion around the weekend a little confusing.
To being with isn’t conservative supposed to be pro “traditional family values”, so what are they trying to do by not compensating people who work when they would traditionally spend with their families and friends?
Also, many on the right of the political spectrum argue that Australian society has changed and that notions of the weekend is no longer what it was in the past. The majority of people no longer go to church on Sundays or spend it quietly with their friends hanging out at home.
People now expect shops to be open, restaurants and cafés be fully operational so that they are able to enjoy a leisurely breakfast, or brunch before moving on to the popular “Sunday Session” at the local suburban pub. All these venues (not to mention movie cinemas, concert halls, swimming pools and gyms, etc) all need to be fully staffed in order to provide the level of service that we have come to expect in this country.
While what people might do on the weekend might be different in 2014, I don’t think it that it means that the concept of weekend has diminished. Australians still value Saturday and Sunday (plus any time outside work such as evenings) to be special and exclusively theirs to do what they want.
Many conservatives would argue that because of the changing nature of the workforce and the rise of the “fly-in-fly-out” workforce, the idea of communal time off is no longer current.
Although they have a point, in that the working week is no longer constrained to 9-5 and Monday to Friday, I don’t think that Australian society is at the stage yet where Tuesday or Wednesday morning has the same value as the weekend.
If you have been out at all on Sunday mornings in your local area, you will know that they are quieter than a normal weekday morning. This is because it is the weekend and most people are enjoying a sleep in and a chance to get up slowly.
Those of you who use public transport, you will know it is a lot harder to get around on weekends. In all their wisdom, the people at the public transport department still believe that fewer buses and trains are needed on weekends (especially Sundays) because fewer people are out and about during this time of the week.
I will not believe that the weekend has equal value as the other 5 days of week until there are no separate public transport timetables for the weekend and those culturally important events happen on a Tuesday morning. Until then those who work unsocialable hours will continue to expect penalty rates as compensation for not spending time with our friends and family.