Photo of Australian one hundred dollar bills with text superimposed. "Ultimately, the just wage is the means of verifying the justice of the whole socioeconomic system." Bishop Vincent Long van Nguyen, 1 May 2018, Feast of St Joseph the Worker.

Just Wages Call on Feast of St Joseph the Worker

The rising cost of living and slow wages growth in Australia are combining to put pressure on many household budgets. Bishop Vincent Long van Nguyen, Chair of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council expresses concern especially for low paid workers and families living in poverty. In his pastoral letter for the Feast of St Joseph the Worker he says that just wages are the key to the solution.

Bishop Long explains the consistent call of Popes for just wages since the 1890’s. Then he goes on to explain the current wage crisis and its impact on families. He declares that it is a challenge for the whole community and notes the different solutions proposed. Bishop Long concludes with a call for a new consensus to strike a balance between wages and profits. In doing this he references the Prices and Incomes Accords of the 1980s.

It has been done before. In the 1980s, business, unions and government agreed on the Prices and Incomes Accords, which limited wage demands, reduced industrial action and lifted the profitability of businesses. Social wage entitlements like Medicare and superannuation benefited workers and the broader community. However imperfect the Accords, they did show the possibility of competing parties coming together to strike a balance between wages and profits. Then, business profits needed to be restored; today it is workers’ wages.

The common good, Bishop Long says, demands that we give the greatest support to those in greatest need.

Read the Pastoral Letter

The pastoral letter is called A Fair Day’s Pay – for the dignity of workers and the good of all. Read the full text here.

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