St Joseph the Worker call to listen to threatened workers

Bishop Christopher Saunders, Chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, today issued a Pastoral Letter for the Feast of St Joseph the Worker.

Reiterating concerns already raised by the Catholic Bishops regarding workplace relations changes, Bishop Saunders said, "one wonders how those workers with fewer skills, little bargaining power and no representation will cope in the cut and thrust of workplace negotiations."

"We should ensure the voice of those who have already endured some of the negative consequences of labour market deregulation is heard in the midst of the changing world of work," he said.

Bishop Saunders, in the letter entitled "The voice of vulnerable workers in the changing world of work", drew attention to casual workers who he said have not benefited from changes in industrial relations over the past two decades.

"Their experiences of poor wages and conditions, unreasonable hours, little training, poor bargaining power and the risk of unemployment stand as a challenge to the promised benefits of greater choice and flexibility in the workplace," he said.

"The Church holds that the person is the measure of the dignity of work. Adequate pay, fair conditions, the representation of industrially weak workers and the availability of work are the grounds on which the fairness of industrial relations is and will continue to be tested", Bishop Saunders concluded.

Meanwhile, the Young Christian Workers (YCW) plans to celebrate International Labour Day today with a range of events in major capital cities to help young people understand the implications of the Federal Government's "WorkChoices" changes introduced in March.

"This year, the YCW is concerned for the loss of young people's work rights, value and dignity due to the newly introduced WorkChoices legislation," a YCW statement said.

"After analysing the Federal Government's proposed changes to the Industrial Relations System, the young workers of the YCW believe that these proposals wrongly attempt to put profits before people and place young people in a vulnerable position in the workforce."

YCW said that it plans to use International Labour Day "as a defining moment to oppose the new WorkChoices legislation."

The YCW events, planned for the first week of May, include communication, conflict resolution and negotiating skills workshops and a strategy to promote the union-backed "Your Rights at Work" campaign.

Listen to the voice of vulnerable workers (Australian Catholic Social Justice Council 1/5/06)
Media Release (Young Christian Workers 30/4/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
The voice of vulnerable workers in the changing world of work: A Pastoral Letter for the Feast of St Joseph the Worker (Australian Catholic Social Justice Council 1/5/06)
Australian Catholic Social Justice Council | ACSJC Briefing May 2006
Young Christian Workers

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1 May 2006