||Issue No. 246||12 November 2004|
How It Comes To This
Interview: The Reich Stuff
Economics: Crime and Punishment
Environment: Beyond The Wedge
International: The End Of The Lucky Country
Safety: Tests Fail Tests
Politics: Labo(u)r Day
Human Rights: Arabian Lights
History: Labour's Titan
Review: Foxy Fiasco
Poetry: Then I Saw The Light
The Locker Room
Saint Buzz: Hymn the Man
Responding to a request from a group of the Canadian United Church ministers and their families, CAW president Buzz Hargrove, said "although the workplace is different the concerns raised by the ministers are similar to those of other workplaces including health and safety, privacy, harassment and compensation".
Hargrove, who was in Sydney this year as a guest of the AMWU, went on to stress that the "drive isn't an attack on the United Church, which is a very progressive organisation. Overall, by correcting a lot of the problems raised, unionisation will create a better work environment".
The CAW initiative is probably the first clergy organising drive in North America.
According to one of the first ministers to become a member, clergy in Canada face slander, stalking, harassment, public humiliation, withheld payments and reneging on employment contracts.
The Rev David Galston said "there was a pressing need to speak up and name the problem of clergy abuse and bring the issue forward in a serious manner. Joining the union is a way of raising issues openly and fairly and could be a catalyst for change in the church".
Unionisation is being hotly disputed.
The official church position is that," it would not stand in the way of ministers exploring that kind of action". The church has more than 4000 ministers and thousands more other church-based staff.
Others are not convinced. One participant in the Church's online discussion believes the clergy has never had it so good.
In the UK pastors and priests as well as other church-based workers have been organised for more than a decade.The Clergy and Church Workers Union is a member of the community sector of AMICUS,one of Britains largest unions.
It reports a growing membership from different denominational backgrounds and other faith communities.
The whole issue of contracts and fundamental workers rights for church based workers has become such an issue that the Government has set up a Clergy Working Group with the active participation of the union.
The issues driving unionising efforts on both sides of the Atlantic are the same. In Canada it is suggested that nearly one in five clergy is on stress leave at any time.
Only two churches in Australia - UCA and the Catholic- have a detailed statement on their particular role as church employers,and both include strong statements on encouraging workers to become members of unions.
Neither makes a case for the unionisation of their ministers or priests.
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