By Robin Gomes
The Holy See is urging support for the Decent Work Agenda of the United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO), saying the path forward to a just and inclusive development needs new visions and strategic investments to provide employment and to sustain enterprises, especially where the social gap is deep.
Speaking at a high-level meeting marking 100 years of the ILO, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the UN, Archbishop Bernadito Auza said on Thursday that the celebration should be an opportunity to renew the necessary commitment to work together in order to achieve the goal of a social justice available to all, leaving no one behind.
Labour – peace and justice
The Filipino archbishop drew attention to the ILO motto, “If you desire peace, cultivate justice”, – and asked whether 100 years later, conditions of work and the role of labour in societies were still the cornerstones of social justice and peace.
ILO recognizes work as a necessary component of human fulfilment and reaffirms that every aspect of the human person, both as a worker and as a member of a family and community, must be at the centre of inclusive and sustainable strategies for integral development. Arch. Auza explained that the recognition of the centrality of the person means restoring dignity to work and production processes. “It means putting the working person at the forefront even before the work he does”.
Labour - human development and dignity
The Vatican official said that access to decent work for all is an essential condition for development, but regretted that in the last decades the world economy has not been able to create sufficient decent work opportunities for all. The gap between the prosperous few and the majority poor has increased with 5.2 billion, or 3 out of 4, without any social security.
He cited Pope Francis according to whom decent work must fully integrate the ecological paradigm. The Pope’s 3-point motto of land, housing and work, he said, reasserts the inner value of developmental principles based on the dignity of the human person.
Stressing that labour is not a commodity, Arch. Auza said that a labour contract involves a transaction between human beings. Hence, it cannot be considered as a mere commercial relationship.
The activity of human labour, he said, is important for its role in the formation of a person’s character and dignity. It gives him the capability of creating new things, relations, expressions, that mark the vitality of a person. Giving priority to decent work, Arch. Auza said, keeps economic activity at the service of human beings and social relations and strengthens the ethical foundation that can help to guarantee it.