Bishop hits back at Minister's claims on IR reforms

Parramatta Diocese Bishop Kevin Manning has reacted swiftly to the claim of Federal Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews that the Government's new industrial relations legislation is "in line with Christian principles".

Mr Andrews (pictured) said yesterday: "The ethical core of the Christian ... principle [on employment] is that every person who is capable, and wants a job, should have the ability to get a job."

"I believe that what we are doing is firmly in line with Christian principles in this regard," he said.

Reporting the "devoutly Catholic" Mr Andrews' claim that "transforming industrial relations was grounded in Christian values", the Sydney Morning Herald says that Bishop Manning will today print an open letter to Prime Minister John Howard today, challenging the values that underpin the Government's proposed changes.

It says that Bishop Manning claims that Mr Andrews has Catholic teaching "twisted up", but does not quote further from the letter, which will be published today in the Diocese's Catholic Outlook newspaper (to be available online here).

Meanwhile Online Catholics quotes Australian Catholic Commission for Employment Relations CEO John Ryan's view that the legislation poses a serious threat to the family.

"The introduction of a 'Fair Pay Commission' is to base a living wage for a family on that of a single adult worker," Mr Ryan said. "There are real implications for workers and families in these proposals."

Mr Ryan said that the Commission opposes the exemption of small business from unfair dismssal laws, and warned that the removal of such laws could provoke an increase in litigation based on discrimination.

"If the law does not permit you to argue that your dismissal was unfair, there may be a temptation to argue that you are the victim of racial prejudice, or discrimination on grounds of gender or pregnancy, or other matter," Mr Ryan told Online Catholics.

The Age reports that staff at RMIT and Deakin universities, the Victorian College of the Arts and the Melbourne campuses of the Australian Catholic University will strike today in protest against the legislation.

Religious twist in workplace relations (Sydney Morning Herald 1/6/05 - payment required)
Catholics object to Federal workplace 'reforms' (Online Catholics 1/6/05)
Universities protest over workplace rule changes (The Age 1/6/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Australian Catholic Commission for Employment Relations
Kevin Andrews
Notable quotations from the papal encyclical Laborem Exercens On Human Work, Pope John Paul II, 1981 (Office for Social Justice, Archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis - cited by Online Catholics)
Uniting Church National Assembly Info and Action Resources

Catholic body seeks meeting with Minister over workplace laws (CathNews 30/5/05)
Parramatta bishop urges faithful to end quarrelling (CathNews 11/5/05)

Coalition slanging match over IR reforms (The Age/Australian Associated Press 31/5/05)
Minister defends new industrial laws (The Age 1/6/05)
Industrial Relations Reforms set to Hurt Workers (Uniting Church in Australia National Assembly 26/5/05)

32 Jun 2005