Catholic Church voices concerns over WorkChoices

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Catholic Church voices concerns over WorkChoices

The leading social justice body in the Catholic Church has expressed concerns about the effect of the Federal Government’s WorkChoices legislation on vulnerable workers.

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The leading social justice body in the Catholic Church has expressed concerns about the effect of the Federal Government’s WorkChoices legislation on vulnerable workers.

Bishop Christopher Saunders, Chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council (ACSJC) and Bishop of Broome, said the community is currently awaiting the effects of the Federal Government’s changes to industrial law – ‘changes that have been described by many experts as the most far-reaching in a century’.

Vigilance required

‘This level of change requires vigilance,’ he said in his Pastoral Letter for the Feast of St Joseph the Worker.

‘With the work environment turning increasingly towards individual contracts in the form of Australian Workplace Agreements, the desire for job security on the part of the employee, the lack of bargaining skills among many young workers, and the possibility of intimidation on the part of the employer in negotiating agreements, makes the so-called “casual mentality” an issue of growing concern.

‘While there are many exemplary employers who provide meaningful and rewarding jobs, market pressures and poor employment practices can easily undermine the working relationship.’

The dignity of work

Bishop Saunders said the ‘person is the measure of the dignity of work’.

‘Adequate pay, fair conditions, the representation of industrially weak workers and the availability and security of work are the grounds on which the fairness of industrial relations is and will continue to be tested,’ he said.

Bishop Saunders said there were a number of concerns that go to the likely general effects of the ‘WorkChoices’ legislation, and to particular effects that can strike the most vulnerable:

  • that minimum wages would be pushed lower or erode over time

  • that creating jobs by allowing wages and conditions to fall would do little to lift people out of poverty

  • that a reduction of the award safety net would see the loss of fair standards of employment for all

  • that the removal of unfair dismissal laws for most businesses would exacerbate job insecurity

  • that the role of unions representing their members and other workers would be weakened.

‘These concerns remain,’ he said.

Details

The full Pastoral Letter can be read here.

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Catholic Church expresses concerns on Govt IR changes  

 

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