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Bishop Manning challenges employment relations law

As the Federal Government prepares to introduce wide ranging industrial reforms, Bishop Kevin Manning of Parramatta in Sydney this week issued a four-fold challenge with regard to employment relations in Australia.

Today's issue of Online Catholics reports that Bishop Manning cited principles enunciated in Pope Leo XIII's 1891 landmark encyclical Rerum Novarum, one week after Geneva-based International Labor Organisation found that the proportion of Australians who spend 50 hours or more a week at work is among the highest in the world. The ILO said 20% of Australian workers were in this category, up from 15% in the 1990s.

The Bishop's first concern is the lack of a living wage.

"More and more Australian families are joining the ranks of the working poor," he said. "They feel pressed to accept contracts that do not deliver a living wage.

Secondly, he is seeking the introduction of legislation for the protection of workers' rights.

He said: "In recent years we have seen companies avoiding their responsibilities by using complex company structures and legal loopholes to avoid paying out workers' entitlements, a "crime that cries out to the avenging anger of heaven" (Rerum Novarum ,n 17).

His third and fourth challenges concern promoting the "vertical and horizontal equity within the labour market", which protects the right to organise, bargain and strike, and for a higher value to be put on unpaid work, especially that of nurturing children.

"Not all meaningful and productive human effort is paid for directly. Raising children, nurturing household and community life, and seeking knowledge are rarely remunerated," Bishop Manning said.

Bishop Manning concluded by acknowledging that the Church is also an employer, and that Catholic Social Teaching must be effected in Catholic workplaces.

"In setting these four challenges I am mindful of the need to set the Church's house in order. Church workers, like all workers, have a right to decent pay, safe and healthy conditions, and reasonable workloads that enable a proper balance between paid work and family life," Bishop Manning said.

Bishop Manning challenges employment relations law (Online Catholics 10/11/04)

Bishop Kevin Manning, Bishop of Parramatta: Four centenary challenges in employment relations
Catholic Diocese of Parramatta

10 Nov 2004