.- Workers and workers rights must be at the forefront of all sustainable development efforts, urged the Vatican’s permanent observer to the United Nations in New York this week.
Archbishop Celestino Migliore told the UN’s 45th session of the Commission for Social Development on Thursday that it is imperative for the international community to enable economic growth through the availability of decent work and wages.
“Work itself should be decent,” he said. “Work is a right but it is also the duty of all people to contribute to the good of their society and the whole human family. Work is dignified by the people who do it; but it must also be dignified in itself,” he stated plainly.
The archbishop underlined the importance of work to “the whole social question”. It is “the condition not only for social development but for the cultural and moral development of all of us,” he told the UN’s Economic and Social Council.
“A constant policy goal at national and international levels must surely be the creation of a balance between economic development on the one hand and social justice on the other, enshrined in law, which protects workers and promotes their rights,” he said.
In this era of globalization, “it falls to the international community and governments to ensure both an enabling economic environment and the availability of work which is decent and properly remunerated,” he noted.
“A very great number of workers would benefit from a fair outcome in the negotiations of the WTO’s Doha Round, in particular regarding agricultural trade rules, to the benefit of many millions of the world’s 1.1 billion agricultural workers, 60% of whom are in workforces with little or no social safety nets,” he said.
The archbishop emphasized equal pay for women, who continue to be overlooked or undervalued in this regard in both rich and poor countries.
“The equality of women and men should be evident also in their treatment in the workplace, in salaries and in the acquisition of pensions,” he said. “Equality will be seen immediately through equal pay for equal work, protection for working mothers and fairness in career advancement.”
He insisted on equal pay for equal work for migrants as well, who so often do the least desirable work in a society. He said law should me made to facilitate family reunification.
“Too often a lack of normal family life leads to evils such as human trafficking and prostitution on the margins of migrant communities,” he noted. “The market for such modern slavery could be undermined by allowing families to live together in the receiving country.”
The archbishop pushed for assistance to families so that parents can be more active in the upbringing of their children, and just wages that are sufficient to meet “ordinary family needs.”
Archbishop Migliore also addressed the extreme poverty still present in the world.
“No government, of however modest means, that 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. “Access to decent, safe and fulfilling work for the extreme poor is fundamental to the achievement of social development.”