Feeds

Government asked to investigate Christmas music torture

Little Drummer Boy still at large

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The Power of One Infographic

The Health and Safety Executive is responsible for monitoring and enforcing safety legislation in workplaces, but a spokesman said that it does not regulate retail premises, which are monitored by local authorities.

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health said that it had not come across any cases of Christmas music alone being a cause of mental distress. "For an employee to seek redress specific to a type of music, rather than volume, they would have to suffer health effects independent of any other cause," said a spokesman. "As far as we are aware, Christmas music alone has not been a cause of occupational ill-health."

Nigel Rogers is the secretary of PipeDown, a campaign against piped music. "We know that unwanted music is another noise, perhaps a particularly pointed noise because it's got a message and it's got a beat and a rhythm normally, so it affects people more than you might think just a normal background noise would," said Rogers.

"Any noise can cause a whole range of physical and psychological abnormalities. In physical terms it can mean raised blood pressure, cortazone disbalance and also depression of the immune system, in fact it generally makes you ill, it causes stress, which is not at all surprising. It is a psychological thing as well at the same time," he said.

Shop workers have taken action in the past, some of it quite radical. Czech workers once staged a walk out in protest at Christmas music, while Austrian shop workers' union the GPA (Gewerkschaft der Privatangestellten) mounted a campaign about the music in 2003.

"When we started the campaign we wanted to change the reason that playing of Christmas carols happened two months before Christmas. It's not necessary we think," Gottfried Rieser, the man behind the campaign at the GPA told OUT-LAW. "The shop workers come to me and we talk about the problems in the shops and they told them one of the biggest problems in the time before Christmas is the playing of carols. We had meetings with the management of the [shops] companies and they told me there is no problem, they didn't see the problem."

"So we went to the broadcasters and newspapers and there was a lot of people, we started a campaign and it was a good thing," said Rieser. "Then the chairman of the board of Spar and I had a meeting, he told me of course I am right the campaign was very successful and he promised to me he won't play the music any more than three weeks before Christmas."

Though the legal barrier for proving psychological distress due to Christmas music would be high, the campaigners said they will not give up.

"Noise is often called the forgotten pollutant; I think piped music is the forgotten aspect of noise," said PipeDown's Rogers.

"All we are asking for is that the staff be given some opportunity to escape, maybe the music should be switched off at certain times, maybe there should be areas of quiet where staff can go during their breaks, it's not even regulated just now," said the Noise Association's Weedon.

The Austrian example will give campaigners hope. "Today we visited the shops and there were no Christmas songs, no carols. I'm very proud about it," said Rieser.

Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Amazon Reveals One Weird Trick: A Loss On Almost $20bn In Sales
Investors really hate it: Share price plunge as growth SLOWS in key AWS division
Bose says today is F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Chips are down at Broadcom: Thousands of workers laid off
Cellphone baseband device biz shuttered
Twitch rich as Google flicks $1bn hitch switch, claims snitch
Gameplay streaming biz and search king refuse to deny fresh gobble rumors
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.