From the TUC

The Pope on unions

08 Jul 2009, By

Good article in the Guardian today summarising CARITAS IN VERITATE”, the latest Papal Encyclical. Some of this will be very controversial for trade unionists and the left more generally – but while the encyclical contains much on issues around abortion and contraception that I disagree with, I have more sympathy with its analysis that a belief in unfettered free-markets has meant that, ‘In the long term…have led to economic, social and political systems that trample upon personal and social freedom, and are therefore unable to deliver the justice that they promise.’

Unions get a mention as well:

“Through the combination of social and economic change, trade union organizations experience greater difficulty in carrying out their task of representing the interests of workers, partly because Governments, for reasons of economic utility, often limit the freedom or the negotiating capacity of labour unions. Hence traditional networks of solidarity have more and more obstacles to overcome. The repeated calls issued within the Church’s social doctrine…… for the promotion of workers’ associations that can defend their rights must therefore be honoured today even more than in the past, as a prompt and far-sighted response to the urgent need for new forms of cooperation at the international level, as well as the local level.”

I haven’t had a chance to go through this in any great detail, but on a pretty fundamental level there is a value in unions working more closely with a whole range of faith organisations (see here for another example), to progress a whole range of issues – at a global and national level, but also at the level of the workplace. A recent TUC survey found that 8 in 10 of those union reps who described themselves as having a faith, saw a clear link between this and their union work. Food for thought, even for those of us who don’t have a faith – any thoughts on all this?