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Issue No. 260 22 April 2005  
E D I T O R I A L

Praying Mantras
The election of a new Pontiff is a moment of cultural significance, a point where the world’s moral compass comes under scrutiny, and not just for the world’s billion-odd Catholics.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: [email protected]
Labor's Penny Wong has the job of getting more people into the workplace and keeping companies honest. In her spare time ....

Unions: State of the Union
Unions NSW secretary John Robertson unveils the annual survey of attitudes of workers to their jobs, thier lives and the union.

Industrial: Fashion Accessories
Jim Marr unpacks the unlikely claim of a suburban house to be considered the New Mecca of the New Right …

Legal: Leg Before Picket
Chris White looks at how the federal industrial changes will impact on the basic right to strike.

Politics: Business Welfare Brats
Neale Towart asks why the only form of legitmate welfare seems to be going to the top end of town.

Health: Cannabis Controversy
Zoe Reynolds looks at how drug and alcohol testing is leading to some addled outcomes.

Economics: Debt, Deficit, Downturn
As the indicators head south, Frank Stilwell wonders whether it is the way we do economics that is to blame.

History: Politics In The Pubs
Phil Doyle reports on the increasingly-popular Struggles, Scabs and Schooners day out.

Review: Three Bob's Worth
Doing their best Margaret and David, Tara de Boehmler and Tim Brunero have different takes on the new Australian flick Three Dollars.

Poetry: Do The Slowly Chokie
Workers Online bard David Peetz teaches how workers to dance to Howard's industrial laws.

N E W S

 Pope Backs Rights At Work

 Trade Deal Built On Corpses

 AWAs Go – So Do Long Hours

 Sunday Too Far Away

 True Lies at RailCorp

 Mushrooms Mums Fed Bull

 Sewage In The Streets

 Taskforce Stands Over Vet

 Engineers in Driving Seat

 Backyard Funerals Targeted

 Work Deaths Get Permanent Reflection

 Yanks Brawl With Mall

 Activist’s What’s On

C O L U M N S

The Soapbox
Notes From a Laneway
Mental Health Workers Alliance member Toby Raeburn shares a week on the frontline.

The Locker Room
War, Plus The Shooting
The Socceroos aren’t their own worst enemy after all, or so says Phil Doyle

Culture
Life Imitates Art
The jokes have been around for some time about the economic rationalist's approach to the orchestra, writes Evan Jones.

Parliament
The Westie Wing
Ian West takes the secret passage out of Macquarie Street to deliver his take on NSW Parliamentary Committees and other goings on.

L E T T E R S
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News

Pope Backs Rights At Work


The new Pontiff is a backer of workers’ right to organise, having written key Vatican policies that implore governments to have "a just labour policy".

While a staunch opponent of communism and liberation theology, Pope Benedict XVI was responsible for a series of statements and encyclicals supportive of workers’ rights to organise through trade unions.

As head of the Vatican's Congregation For The Doctrine Of The Faith, he strongly endorsed the papal encyclical Laborem Exercens (On Work), which sets out the Vaticans views on the modern workplace.

He also penned the "Instruction On Christian Freedom And Liberation" for the Vatican, which differentiated trade unions from revolutionary political organizations.

"The Church encourages the creation and activity of associations such as trade unions which fight for the defence of the rights and legitimate interests of the workers and for social justice," he wrote in the 1986 document, which had the effect of setting official Vatican policy

The Instruction also back Laborem Exercens Benedict XVI's predecessor, John Paul II, which said that unions were more than just about securing wages and conditions for members but were also "a mouthpiece for the struggle for social justice, for the just rights of working people".

Unions were central to determining influences on "unjust relationships in the field of human labour", the encyclical said.

"History teaches that organizations of this type are an indispensable element of social life, especially in modern industrialised societies.

"It is the State that must conduct a just labour policy."

"People unite to secure their rights, their union remains a constructive factor of social order and solidarity, and it is impossible to ignore it.

"It is always to be hoped that, thanks to the work of their unions, workers will not only have more, but above all be more:

"The whole labour process must be organized and adapted in such a way as to respect the requirements of the person and his or her forms of life."

Working People the Key

The Bishop of Parramatta, Kevin Manning says the conditions of working people have always been a key concern of Catholic Social Teaching.

Manning pointed to the landmark encyclical Rerum Novarum issued in 1891 by Pope Leo XIII.

"All workers have a right to decent pay, safe and healthy conditions, and reasonable workloads that enable a proper balance between paid work and family life," said Leo.

"If through necessity or fear of a worse evil, the workman accepts harder conditions because an employer or contractor will give him no better, he is the victim of force and injustice."

Pope Leo also slammed complex company structures and legal loopholes to avoid paying out workers' entitlements as a "crime that cries out to the avenging anger of heaven".


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