Labour Day 2012

A nice statement from the American Bishops

Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship:

Economic decisions and institutions should be assessed according to whether they protect or undermine the dignity of the human person. Social and economic policies should foster the creation of jobs for all who can work with decent working conditions and just wages. Barriers to equal pay and employment for women and those facing unjust discrimination must be overcome. Catholic social teaching supports the right of workers to choose whether to organize, join a union, and bargain collectively, and to exercise these rights without reprisal. It also affirms economic freedom, initiative, and the right to private property. Workers, owners, employers, and unions should work together to create decent jobs, build a more just economy, and advance the common good (no. 76). 

Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton  Chairman, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development  added this before Labour Day:

This Labour Day, our country continues to struggle with a broken economy that is not producing enough decent jobs. Millions of Americans suffer from unemployment, underemployment or are living in poverty as their basic needs too often go unmet. This represents a serious economic and moral failure for our nation. As people of faith, we are called to stand with those left behind, offer our solidarity, and join forces with “the least of these” to help meet their basic needs. We seek national economic renewal that places working people and their families at the center of economic life. 

 This is a faith community one can embrace.

 While American in provenance, these words can apply to Canada at this time in economic history.

The Catholic Church for over 100 years has staunchly defended labour. John Paul ll’s Laborem Exercens stands out as an outstanding commentary on the dignity of work and the worker.

The instrument for labour has been the union movement, at present under attack seemingly everywhere—except in the world’s most successful economy: Germany. Here labour is 97% unionized. No major decisions are made without Labour at the table.

Canada now is running at 17% of the labour force unionized.

Unions historically has elevated the dignity of workers everywhere.They have succesfully struggled against income inequality,child labour, health and safety, unemployment insurance, minimum wage, public education,  racism and sexism, pension reform and as the Tee shirt says, “For the people who gave you the weekend: unions.”

Canada under the Harper govenment with its misplaced priorities has become an unfair society. Unions are once again being demonized as “fat cats.” The recent economic downturn, the fault of the banksters and the greedy business class which supports them, have got off scott free. Families are worse off than they were in 1980. The 1% have made huge gains at the expense of working people  who are now being  told that they must share the burden of an economic crisis they did not create.

Canada’s largest corporations are pulling in billions dollars  in profits. The OECD estimates that corporations are sitting sitting on more than $500 billion – hoarding rather than investing it in our economy to stimulate growth and  create jobs.

The Labour Day walk in Toronto once again was a cry  for decency, respect for labour and unions.

It would have been nice to see  bishops at the head of the  walk showing their support for the workers.


1 Comment »

  1. 1

    that would be good, to see the higher clergy at the head of such a march. it has been awhile. usually they are riding, and the company is a little different. keep up the good work.

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