“The Catholic Church has much to say about work and the rights and duties of workers. Catholic Social Teachings on work begin with the dignity of the human person and an understanding that work is for the common good.”[Dixon et al., 2017]
Do Australian Catholic organisations bring this to reality – to the employees of their organisations?
In 2017, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference published the report “Our Work Matters: Catholic Church employers and employees in Australia.”
The report noted that the Australian Catholic Church’s more than 3,000 organisations employ around 220,000 people, with more than 77% being women. The Australian Catholic Council for Employment Relations (ACCER) commissioned the project. It was carried out in 2015 and 2016 by the Pastoral Research Office of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC).
According to the report, those employed by the Church (220,000 people) were 1.8% of Australia’s 12 million employed people.
Catholic education, health, and aged care sectors are the largest employers, accounting for 84% of all Church employees. The remainder work for dioceses or parishes, Catholic social services organisations, or other Catholic organisations, including religious orders.
The report notes that the pay and conditions of almost three-quarters (74.1%) of Church employees are determined by enterprise agreements. Another 14.9 % have their pay and conditions covered by an award, and the remainder (11%) are paid under individual arrangements.
We also read that, in November 2022, the full bench of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) announced a 15% pay rise for those in the care sector, with the possibility of more to come. The FWC accepted expert evidence that “feminised industries”, including care work “, have been historically undervalued. The reason for that undervaluation is likely to be gender-based.”
The decision is available HERE.
Professor Charlesworth and Associate Professor Hill state the same and identify the following:
Aged-care workers are underpaid.
Women’s work is undervalued. [See data on Gender pay gap]
Enterprise bargaining benefits men.
Has the Australian Catholic Church and its 3,000 organisations led the way in demonstrating the dignity of work and the dignity of the worker, in particular, addressing the three issues noted above: (i) aged-care workers being underpaid, (ii) the undervaluing of women’s work, and (iii) enterprise bargaining benefiting men?
Are the 3,000 Australian Catholic organisations examples of how all Australian organisations should treat their employees, in particular, concerning the three issues identified above?
We have evidence that women are underpaid in Australia.
We have evidence that care work is undervalued in Australia.
Read the reflection in this blog concerning the dignity of work and the worker. [ Over the past few days, Stefan Gigacz and Pat Robertson have been reflecting on the dignity of the worker and the dignity of work, particularly interpreting and explaining the thoughts of Cardinal Cardijn].
Reflect on today’s First Reading (Jonah 3:1-10) and the Gospel passage (Luke 11: 29 -32).
Can we be like the people of Nineveh, repent and do penance by addressing the injustice women face, particularly those in the care sector in Australia?
What can I do today to evaluate objectively if Australian Catholic organisations are indeed vessels of Catholic Social Teachings concerning the dignity of the worker and the dignity of work, particularly the three issues identified above?
Reference: Robert Dixon, Jane McMahon, Stephen Reid, George Keryk and Annemarie Atapattu, Our Work Matters: Catholic Church employers and employees in Australia (Canberra: Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, 2017).