Church body open to national industrial relations system

Following Thursday's release of its main discussion paper on the Federal Government's proposed industrial relations changes, the director of the Australian Catholic Commission for Employment Relations, John Ryan, said the Commission remains open to a national industrial relations system.

CLICK HEREBut Mr Ryan said that any national system must be based on the essential principles for a cooperative relationship between employers and employees.

"The Catholic Church has established positions on key areas of the government's proposals. These social teachings on the dignity of work and workers are essential aspects of the Catholic faith. They are firmly rooted in the Gospel," he said in a statement published on the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference website.

He described the Commission's discussion paper as an initial assessment of the government's proposed changes, based on the information available.

Mr Ryan said final assessment of the changes must wait until the legislation has been tabled in parliament.

The government has flagged proposals to: Give greater scope for the making of direct agreements between employers and employees; Have fewer mandatory matters and standards in employment agreements; Change unfair dismissal laws; and Reduce the capacity of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission and similar state tribunals to regulate aspects of employment.

Catholic teaching on the spiritual, economic and social aspects of work in modern industrial societies has its genesis in Pope Leo XIII's 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum. One hundred years later, Pope John Paul II reflected on the same issues in a contemporary setting in his encyclicals Centesimus Annus and Laborem Exercens.

ACCER's briefing paper expresses concern about four aspects of the government's proposals: Wage fixing; Unfair dismissals; Minimum conditions and agreement making; The Functions of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.

Mr Ryan said ACCER was open to a national industrial relations system provided it is based on the essential principles for a cooperative relationship between employers and employees.

"The Catholic Church is one of the biggest employers in Australia and also a major provider of services," he said. "It has experience as an employer and seeks to speak on behalf of those who are vulnerable in workplace bargaining. It has a special responsibility to be part of this important discussion.

"The Church will work with all sides of politics, as well as unions and employer groups to ensure that this balance is achieved in Australia's workplace relations system."

Church body considers workplace reforms in light of Catholic Social Teaching (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference 9/9/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Australian Catholic Commission for Employment Relations | ACCER Briefing Paper No 1

Church body slams IR policy proposals (CathNews 9/9/05)
Bishop urges Govt to tread softly on IR (CathNews 2/9/05)
Minister says full employment is Catholic "first principle" (CathNews 19/8/05)
Remote area voice sees PM 'off target' on IR (CathNews 12/8/05)
Commission answers PM's denial of existence of Catholic position (CathNews 10/8/05)
PM dismisses voice of Church (CathNews 8/8/05)
Melbourne Archbishop coordinating IR response (CathNews 3/8/05)
Minister tells churches to stay out of IR fight (CathNews 11/7/05)
Pell voices wages concerns (CathNews 4/7/05)
Canberra bishop speaks out on job insecurity fears (CathNews 1/7/04)
Church leaders worried about Howard IR changes (CathNews 29/6/05)
Bishop hits back at Minister's claims on IR reforms 1/6/05)
Catholic body seeks meeting with Minister over workplace laws (CathNews 30/5/05)

Catholics doubt value of some IR reforms (Seven News/Australian Associated Press 0/9/05)
Church urges fair deal for workers (Sydney Morning Herald 10/9/05)
The easy is looking hard (The Age 10/9/05)
Catholic teachers fear IR laws (SBS 9/9/05)

12 Sep 2005