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Christmas Day pay dispute headed to VCAT

AAP logoAAP 8/11/2016 Julian Drape

A Victorian minister who a union says effectively stole Christmas is facing legal action over his decision not to declare Christmas Day a public holiday.

Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees' Association state secretary Michael Donovan wants the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to force Small Business Minister Philip Dalidakis to release documents relating to the state government's decision not to declare December 25 - which this year falls on a Sunday - a public holiday.

The union boss sought the documents at the end of August under freedom of information laws but they weren't provided within 45 days as required under the Act.

"The government has not yet declared Christmas Day a public holiday (meaning) some workers will not have a right to reasonably refuse to work on Christmas Day (or) be entitled to public holiday penalty rates," a lawyer acting for Mr Donovan states in a letter sent to Mr Dalidakis on Monday.

The union acknowledges the government is gathering the documents but notes Christmas Day is looming.

"It is imperative our client receive the documents sought pursuant to the request as a matter of urgency," the letter from Maurice Blackburn senior associate Daniel Victory states.

Mr Victory on Tuesday told AAP that Victorians working on Christmas Day deserved to know why the government decided they didn't deserve public holiday penalty rates in 2016.

Workers elsewhere in Australia will receive them on December 25.

"The review by the government appears to have been conducted without hearing from the workers," Mr Victory said in a statement.

"The minister needs to be transparent in his decision-making and if the minister has conducted a review it should be released."

A spokeswoman for Mr Dalidakis said the FOI request was still with the department and it had not yet gone to the minister's office.

She said the government will hand over the documents once they've gone through the usual process, and will not be fighting the union in VCAT to prevent them being released.

Mr Dalidakis stuck to his guns when asked about the holiday in Question Time.

"Just because other states and territories may do something different is no reason for Victoria to follow suit," he told parliament.

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