Bishop condemns "starvation wages"

Parramatta's Bishop Kevin Manning has described the low wages of cleaners as "theft of their labour" and a contradiction of their human dignity, while top executives earn millions of dollars a year.

This week's Catholic Weekly reports that Bishop Manning, who is an outspoken supporter of workplace rights, says cleaners are receiving a "rough deal" from the property industry and cleaning contractors.

"Some of these cleaners are refugees and are given what they call 'on-job training'," he said.

"All it means is they get them to work for a month or two, for little to no pay and then get rid of them.

"These vulnerable workers on are 'starvation wages', which to me is a contradiction when these people are on something like $14,000 a year and top executives earn millions a year. There is just no equity in the whole system."

Catholic bishops including Kevin Manning, Christopher Saunders, Bishop of Broome, and Pat Power, Auxiliary Bishop of Canberra-Goulburn, were among more than 40 politicians, religious leaders, welfare and community groups who banded together on International Anti-Poverty Day last week to tell the property industry and cleaning contractors "it's time to lift cleaners out of poverty".

The Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union (LHMU) placed a full-page advertisement in the Australian Financial Review which carried the endorsement of every premier and chief minister across Australia, along with senior faith-based, welfare and ethnic community representatives.

"The manipulation of workers has been condemned right throughout the scriptures," he said.

"Depriving workers of just wages puts them in a category of the permanent poor because they can never get ahead.

"These people will always be the target of the rich."

Bishop Saunders says if "we are serious as a Church about social justice then we are most serious about those who are most marginalised and vulnerable".

'Exploitation of workers a theft of their labour' (Catholic Weekly, 29/10/06) ">

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Bishop Kevin Manning, Parramatta diocese
Clean Start program (LHMU)

Catholics join campaign to clean up poverty (CathNews, 17/10/06)
Bishop's comments at centre of IR tug-of-war (CathNews, 9/8/06)
Families biggest losers under Workchoices, say clerics (CathNews 30/6/06)
Bishop Manning briefs police on new workplace moral conundrum (CathNews 24/5/06)
Brennan foreshadows lower minimum wage (CathNews 2/5/06)
St Joseph the Worker call to listen to threatened workers (CathNews 1/5/06)
Employment body echoes concern on minimum wage (CathNews 27/3/06)

26 Oct 2006