International Workers Day: YCW calls for justice in the workplace

Young Christian Workers are marking today's Feast of St Joseph, International Workers Day, with an appeal for a living wage for young people. Currently 38% of full time UK young workers do not earn a living wage. Young workers are four times as likley as older workers to be unemployed. All this contributes to the fact that 28% of all young people in the UK live in poverty.

As part of their current national campaign, the YCW are joining over 70 other organisations to call for an end to UK poverty by 2020. 'Get Fair' members include Save the Children, Oxfam, Church Action on Poverty and the Refugee Council. Over the past two decades the UK has become richer but not fairer, the campaign claims. As the fifth richest country in the world, members of Get Fair are calling for the scandle of the gap between the rich and the poor to addressed, especially as the ecomonic crisis threatens to make things worse.

The ten national European Movements of YCW, representing tens of thousands of young workers, today, joined together in issuing a message for the International Workers Day. It highlights the current ecominic situation as a 'crisis that particularly affects the most vulnerable, such as women, immigrants and young people'. The YCW movements point out that the price of this financial crunch 'will be paid for by workers, who as a result will find themselves in unemployment and temporary contracts with less security and less rights.'

Danny Curtin, 29, National President of the YCW in England and Wales, said: "There are many vulnerable young workers who need to know that they are worth something. Each one is unique, worth more than all the money in the world. It doesn¹t matter how important others may judge them and their work. It¹s not our jobs which give us value. Whether we are working in a factory or a shop, an office or an investment bank, or joining the queue at the Job Centre, we are all in this together. Whoever we are, whatever we do, we all have a special task to fulfil, which no one else can do, but us."

"We might not feel we know what our purpose in life is, and at times like this it is easy for young people to feel down heartened. But we all have a part to play to make this world a better place, which I believe is to live our life as God wants us to live. That means getting on with the everyday things in extraordinary ways. That might mean reaching out to someone else at work and letting them know that they are valued for who they are, not just what they do. It might also mean reaching out to those struggling to find work, or to hold down two or three jobs just to make ends meet."

Referring to the founder of the YCW, Cardinal Joseph Cardijn, Curtin explained: "Joseph Cardijn used to say 'Without work, there is no host, no wine, no paten, no chalice, no altar, no Mass; without work there is no church, and no religion'. I don't think Cardijn was just talking about making the things we need to say Mass. He was talking about the fact that work is a place where the Mass and Church should come alive. It is a place where we should see life getting fairer, newcomers being welcomed, suffering being overcome, and people joining together in solidarity. From Governments to the shop floor, we need a commitment to the most vulnerable in our communities. That¹s how you measure the true value of a society, and its the responsibility of all of us".

Full text: Message of European movements of ICYCW for 1st May 2009

Today we are celebrating the International Worker¹s Day on May 1st. Once again, we look back to the past as we remember the workers¹ fight in Chicago, and those who in 1886 fought for the eight hour working day. Once again, we are mindful of the present, and we go out to protect our rights. Once again, we look forward the future, as we go out to say that a better world is possible.
The celebration of this year is marked by a worldwide economic crisis. A crisis caused by the greediness of some people, by the injustice and the lack of humanity of the ruling economical system. A crisis that, like any crisis, will be paid for by workers, who as a result will find themselves in unemployment and temporary contracts with less security and less rights. A crisis that particularly affects the most vulnerable, such as women, immigrants and young people.

This crisis affects our lives at different levels. In Europe 15,430 young workers under 25 die every year from work related deaths. Furthermore as young workers we suffer around 40% of all working accidents that don¹t result in death. We have the highest unemployment rate, 20% between 15 and 19 years and 18% between 15 and 24 years (European Agency for Safety and Health at Work). These figures are young people with names and surnames. Like Thomas, a young electrician apprentice who died in a working accident; Susana, who lost a finger that was caught in the machine she was working with; Marie who had to leave her job as a hairdresser due to the dermatitis that was caused by the chemical products she was using; or Alfonso who only has known part-time jobs; or Ines who was offered an indefinite contract.

At the education level, the introduction of the European Higher Education Area means the commercialization of higher education and the reduction of opportunities for youngsters from the working class. The Bolkestein directive is still a menace for workers. The European directive of immigrant return makes it clear how we forgot that, not long ago, Europe sent groups of immigrants to other continents, reducing human beings into pieces of merchandise that, once they become unnecessary, can be returned to their birthplace. This is another cause of shame for our continent as it impoverishes the rest of the planet.

In spite of all that has been said, we have to keep hope alive. Hope that is established in a concrete plan of action that brings us to God¹s kingdom. Examples such as the disapproval of the 65-hours directive on working hours in the European Parliament, are signs of hope that confirm what He already told us, ³I have heard the clamour of my people² (Exodus 6:5).

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