OCEANIA/AUSTRALIA - Work is fundamental for the family: Australian Catholic Social Justice Council issues Pastoral Letter for May 1 Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker

Friday, 29 April 2005

Sydney (Fides Service) - To underline the needs and rights of workers as well as those without work, and that work is a right for all and fundamental for families and society, Bishop Christopher Saunders of Broome, Chairman, Australian Catholic Social Justice Council issued a Pastoral Letter for May 1st the feast of St. Joseph the Worker. “The Church recognises the importance of work for the personal formation and dignity of the individual worker. Work is vital in supporting family life and the life of the community. The Church teaches that work is an essential key to the whole social question about the just and proper functioning of society. If work is a key to this social question, then the adequacy of wages provides the measure by which we judge the justice of the entire socioeconomic system - a system that should always be at the service of its people” the Bishop said.
He also addressed the situation of workers in Australia and to “the needs of almost 1.6 million workers struggling to make ends meet and relying on the current wage case because they are unable to bargain for increases above the award rate of pay”. The Bishop warned that the possibility of an employment strategy focused on restraining minimum wages poses a threat to the low paid and unemployed alike, adding that “because work is a foundation for family life, the minimum wage must provide not only for the worker but for the needs of his or her family and for those seeking to start a family. A Government can also provide family benefits to enhance the family income…the minimum wage should not be set below the level of subsistence.”
The Letter is based on a reflection on the parable of the workers in the vineyard (Mt 20, 1-16) and the Bishop concludes: “In this age of prosperity and wealth, there are many who exist both in and out of work at the margins of the labour market. They will be hoping that, like the owner of the vineyard in Jesus’ parable, our Government, business, trade unions and others with influence in Industrial Relations will recognise and honour their need for a wage that allows them to live in dignity.” (PA) (Agenzia Fides 29/4/2005 righe 27 parole 272)