Woolworths workers will now have the option to skip Australia Day, after Channel 10 announced it would not celebrate the national holiday.
The supermarket giant said it decided to relax Australia Day in recognition of the pain January 26 represents for indigenous peoples.
Woolworths, which has more than 160,000 workers across Australia, is the latest in a series of companies to announce that staff can choose to work on January 26 and take another day of leave instead.
Woolworths employees can choose whether to celebrate Australia Day and workers are told they can take January 26 off or change it to another date.
Woolworths said the decision is a recognition of what January 26 stands for indigenous peoples and encouraged its workers to ‘mark the day however they see fit’ (an Australia Day reveller pictured)
Media giant Channel 10, Telstra and accounting firms Deloitte, KPMG and EY have also given employees the option to celebrate Australia Day.
“With over 160,000 team members across the country, we’re proud to be a snapshot of Australian society,” a Woolworths spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia.
‘To that end, we recognize that January 26 means different things to different people. We believe that it is up to each member of the team to mark the day as suits them.
‘Our priority is to create a safe and supportive environment in our stores and sites and to create a workplace where every team member can belong.
“We remain focused on our reconciliation commitments, including supporting the goals of the Uluru Declaration from the heart.”
Media giant Channel 10, Telstra and accounting firms Deloitte (above), KPMG and EY have also told employees they can choose a day off to celebrate Australia Day instead of January 26.
Channel 10 owner Paramount has written to its employees that it will not force employees to take the holiday because ‘January 26’ is not recognized by all as a celebration.
“At Paramount ANZ, our goal is to create a safe place to work where cultural differences are appreciated, understood and respected,” the senior managers wrote in the email.
‘For our First Nations people, we as an organization recognize that January 26 is not a day of celebration.
“We recognize that there has been a turbulent history, particularly around that date and the recognition that that date is Australia Day.
“We recognize that January 26 evokes different emotions for our employees across the company, and we are responsive to employees who may not feel comfortable taking this day as a public holiday.”
WHY ACTIVISTS FIGHT TO CHANGE THE DATE OF AUSTRALIA DAY
Australian activists have long fought to change the date of Australia Day.
January 26 marks the day the first fleet arrived in 1788.
While some see it as the start of modern Australian society, others see it as the start of harsh oppression of indigenous people.
activist group common ground explains: ‘Australia Day celebrations are generally not embraced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as well as some non-Indigenous people.
‘For many First Nations people, this day is recognized as Survival Day or Invasion Day.
‘Because from this day in 1788 onwards, First Nations people suffered massacres, land theft, stolen children and widespread oppression at the hands of colonizing forces.
‘For First Nations people, 26 January is a day of mourning for the history that followed the arrival of Sir Arthur Phillip and the First Fleet.
“Many people believe that to truly celebrate this country we need to find a date that is inclusive of all Australians.”