The Guardian 21 September, 2005

Catholic Commission
hits Andrews’ heresy

A Roman Catholic Commission has refuted Kevin Andrews’ claim that his radical workplace agenda fits with church philosophy. A damning report from the Australian Catholic Commission on Employment Relations (ACCER) says the most vulnerable employees would bear the burden of cut wages and conditions.

The report questions central planks in the Government’s policy, including:

  • changing pay fixation by introducing a minimum wage "fixed by reference to the single adult employee";

  • abolishing unfair dismissal rights for employees of corporations employing fewer than 100 employees; and

  • removing the no disadvantage test.

    Andrews, who is a devout Catholic, told ABC’s Radio National earlier this year the workplace changes fitted with Catholic philosophy because they would reduce unemployment.

    But the ACCER report says there is no credible evidence removing unfair dismissal will create more jobs, rather it is "a fundamental departure" from the current system, which provides for a fair go.

    The report also stresses the importance Catholic teaching places on adequate employment conditions, not just reduced unemployment.

    "Catholic Social Teaching on work starts from the nature and dignity of humanity and work and the role of employees in the continuing process of creation", it says.

    "Economic systems and economic philosophies are not the starting point."

    It says workers should expect to be able to raise a family no matter what their income, which is uncertain under the proposal to fix wages with reference to a single adult employee.

    The report also throws its weight behind the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, saying removing its role in wage setting places the "poor and vulnerable" at most risk.

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