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Victoria gifts workers Xmas Day holiday

AAP logoAAP 24/11/2016

God rest ye merry gentlemen on Christmas Day - Victoria will give workers a public holiday after all.

Victoria was the only state not to declare December 25 a public holiday because it fell on a Sunday, but now the government has reversed its decision.

Small Business Minister Philip Dalidakis was the bearer of glad tidings for workers, backflipping on his original decision not to declare a holiday.

"People who do need to be away from their friends, family and loved ones, do (need to) get the opportunity to be recompensed for it," Mr Dalidakis told reporters on Friday.

Now workers will get three public holidays from December 25 to 27, meaning they will get penalty rates and the right to expect a day off.

Victoria's Labor government decided in February to not declare a holiday when Christmas fell on a Sunday, like this year.

However, it came under sustained criticism from unions and other Labor figures, including federal leader Bill Shorten.

"I wish I was right all the time, but the only person that's right all the time is my wife, in my household," Mr Dalidakis said.

He said the public holiday, that takes Victoria's total to 14 this year, would cost the public and private sectors about $35 million.

But the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said it was more like $100 million.

"Adding yet another public holiday at this short notice is not only inconsistent but a slap in the face for many business owners and operators who have already paid out thousands to pay for two extra public holidays this year," chief executive Mark Stone said.

Victoria also declared extra public holidays on Easter Sunday and AFL Grand Final Eve.

Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees' Association secretary Michael Donovan was delighted at the change.

"Our members have campaigned very hard to make the government change its mind," he said.

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