Families biggest losers under Workchoices, say clerics

Oberon priest Fr Adrian Horgan said that families are the biggest losers under the new workplace laws at a Bathurst rally this week while Bishop Kevin Manning told a Parramatta diocesan conference that the laws were "spectacularly inadequate" when tested against Catholic social teaching.

Central Western Daily reports that speaking on Wednesday to the 3000 protesters in Bathurst, NSW, Fr Horgan said, "The potential for family tensions and conflict will ultimately mean less adequate parenting as families try to survive."

"The trade-offs include men and women unable to meet family requirements crucial to marital relations, as well as life satisfaction, quality child development and performance and productivity in the workplace," Fr Horgan added.

In what organisers believed to be the biggest protest march the city has seen, cries of "shame" and unanimous applause resounded along the bank of the Macquarie River as Fr Horgan and other speakers addressed the thousands of protesters over what they called the dismantling of 100 years of progress by Australian workers.

The protester's major concerns included the loss of penalty rates and public holidays, the lowering of the minimum wage and the forecast disintegration of the Australian family under new legislation.

In Sydney's Parramatta, Bishop Kevin Manning told a gathering of Parramatta school principals and pastors that the WorkChoices legislation "is spectacularly inadequate when tested against the principles of Catholic social teaching."

"How many of us thought we would live to see the day when an Australian government would legislate to ensure that the interests of business run rampant, at the expense of the dignity and rights of the human person?" he asked.

Among other things, Bishop Manning is concerned that the "almost defunct recourse to unfair dismissal provisions creates a climate of distrust because the fear of dismissal stalks the workplace."

The Government's new WorkChoices industrial relations laws came into effect in March. The Fair Pay Commission, charged with determining the minimum wage, started operating last month.

Voting with their feet: Almost 3000 Central West protesters marched to a rally against Australia's new work place laws in Bathurst's Peace Park (Central Western Daily 29/6/06)
Forum on WorkChoices legislation (Parramatta Diocese 28/6/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
The Bishop's Letters (Parramatta diocese)

Commission urges Church employers to review contracts (CathNews 14/3/06)
Commission advises Catholic employers on new legislation (CathNews 27/1/06)

30 Jun 2006