Vatican Articulates 6 Labor Challenges

Archbishop Migliore Addresses U.N. Social Council

NEW YORK, FEB. 9, 2007 ( Work is key not only to social development, but also to cultural and moral development, says the Holy See.

Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, made these comments Thursday to the 45th session of the Commission for Social Development of the U.N. Economic and Social Council. The theme of the meeting was on promoting full employment and decent work for all.

In the address he delivered in English, the prelate highlighted today’s main labor challenges.

The archbishop said that first a balance is needed “between economic development on the one hand and social justice on the other.” He added that the International Labor Organization’s 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work is “still the cornerstone for creating such a balance.”

The second challenge mentioned by Archbishop Migliore is equality between men and women in the workplace.

He said: “Today, equal pay for equal work seems obvious, but women are still too often overlooked or undervalued in this regard, leading to discrimination against them in both rich and poor countries.

“The presence of women throughout the workplace can only help to improve it, revealing and overcoming the contradictions present in many societies, including those organized principally according to the criteria of efficiency and productivity.”

Assisting parents

The archbishop said the third challenge is the need to assist working parents, “if necessary, by law, to bring their own unique and irreplaceable contribution to the upbringing of their children, to the evident benefit of the whole of society.”

The Vatican representative added: “It is also important that men and women with families receive adequate and fair wages that are sufficient to meet ordinary family needs, especially in view of their responsibilities toward their children.

“A just wage will also eliminate the necessity, sometimes forced upon the very poor, to require their children to work, to the detriment of children’s education, their childhood and their growth into well-adjusted adults.”

The fourth challenge pointed out by Archbishop Migliore, is that “no government, of however modest means … should tolerate extreme poverty in today’s world.”

“The world is far too rich to let the scandal of extreme poverty continue due to lack of imagination or politics of neglect,” he said.

Aging labor

The fifth challenge, according to the prelate, is that “given the dramatic shift in the population pyramid in many countries, governments would also do well to find ways to encourage older people to remain in the job market.”

Archbishop Migliore said: “There should be greater flexibility in pension systems and job markets so as to encourage the aged to contribute what they can to society for as long as they are willing and able.

“Younger workers should also be educated to appreciate, work with and respect the talents and experience that only older people can bring to their work.”

Migration, said the archbishop, is the sixth challenge.

The Vatican representative said that immigrants “have become an important source of labor. They not only earn a salary for themselves and their families but, if allowed to do so by legislators and their electorates, they will also become an important source of wealth for their host countries by maintaining standards of living through their contribution to the host economy.”

Archbishop Migliore added: “Migrants are often motivated by the simple wish to work in order to support their families.

“Too often a lack of normal family life leads to evils such as human trafficking and prostitution on the margins of migrant communities. The market for such modern slavery could be undermined by allowing families to live together in the receiving country.”

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