A pilgrimage of workers to the shrine at Czetochowa, Poland A pilgrimage of workers to the shrine at Czetochowa, Poland 

Rethinking Europe's economy for a more humane society

Trade unions and Christian businesspeople join together to call for a “rethinking” of Europe’s economy, embracing Pope Francis’ call for “revolutionary transformation” toward a more humane society.

By Vatican News staff reporter

A federation of Christian businessmen has joined with a confederation of trade unions in calling for “fair wages that are social, just and good for growth, demand, productivity and society in general.”

The International Christion Union of Business executives (UNIAPAC) is an ecumenical and international federation of Christian entrepreneurs representing some 45,000 business leaders throughout the world. In a statement issued together with the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), they lament the “low wages, insecure jobs, poor working conditions and fake self-employment contracts that have become a growth model in some parts of the EU’s economy.” As a result, around one in ten European workers are at risk of poverty.

For ETUC and UNIAPAC, “this state of affairs in unacceptable.” They call on the EU to ensure that full time workers be paid enough to support their families. Fair wages, they say, “should recognise the dignity of work, the dignity of working people, and the right of every worker to a life free from want.”

Echoing Pope Francis, they say that a recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic “should mean rethinking Europe’s economy, not just a return to ‘normal’.” The Pope, they note, “called for change and challenged people to imagine a different kind of economy… Pope Francis proposed a revolutionary transformation towards a more humane society with people’s well-being and happiness at its heart.”

During the pandemic, people learned to make sacrifices as a commitment to working for the common good. Now, says ETUC and UNIAPAC, “we must act on what we have learned.”

They propose unions and employers should work together to ensure fair wages and better working conditions. They discourage competition on wages that do not afford dignity, arguing, “No one should be excluded from the right to a decent wage.”

They urge European governments and employers to “seize the opportunity to act responsibly to improve lives, so that all workers can make ends meet, pay rent and put food on the table for themselves and their families.” But adequate minimum wages are not enough, they say. Instead, “wages need to provide a fair share and reflect the contribution of the workers to the profits of the company.”

To accomplish this, however, will take courage. “It takes courage to lead, courage to cooperate and courage is what will be needed to ensure that the EU will do what is necessary to move forward and become a more just and civilised place where all wages respect a threshold of decency."

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05 August 2021, 17:58