The Caritas in Veritate Foundation recently presented their tenth working paper. Recent decades have witnessed the consolidation of a global economic system strongly characterised by exclusion and inequality as a result of a largely excessive and misplaced trust in the omnipotence of the markets. Today, the distortions and dysfunctions of the free market economy tend to adversely affect the lives of individuals and communities more than ever before. Consequently, work itself, together with its dignity, is increasingly at risk of losing its value as a “good” for the human person and becoming merely a means of exchange within asymmetrical social relations. This calls us to rethink and reconsider what labour is and what it means for the economy, society, policy.
The future starts today, not tomorrow. Pope Francis
The Network of the Catholic Inspired Organizations, together with the Commission of the Bishops Conference of the European Union (COMECE), organized panel debates at the European Economic and Social Commission last November 27, 2018. The Conference discussed what the future of work looks like for the next generation in the midst of digitalization and robotization, as we know that the world of work is facing many transformative changes, accelerating globalization and the rise of artificial intelligence on the one hand, and ecological challenges and a rise in unemployment on the other hand.
Various panel experts underlined the importance of work from an inter-religious dialogue perspective, and John Harley of Eurofound presented a research on the issue of accessibility to work, unemployment, opportunities and threats. The statement of Ms. Sarah Prenger, the International President of the International Young Christian Workers (IYCW) who read testimonies and realities from many young workers in Europe, describing the challenges they face every day, was a good opportunity to confront those data and research.
‘We are all workers, we all have the right to organize into a union’
What is your role in your national movement?
I am an activist in the Guatemala YCW coordination team. We are a small team of activists coordinating the activities of the groups.
What are the main activities of the Guatemala YCW presently?
Our priorities are the personal actions carried out at our workplaces. In addition, we are working at extending the movement. We are now in an investigation and initiation process in another two cities and we are following up new base groups which have been set up in the metropolitan area of Guatemala City (the capital).
What is your personal experience of action?
I have almost always worked for the government. There is a problem of flexibilization there. They give work contracts that enable them to reduce the workers’ rights. In my last job in a human rights institution, most workers did not have access to established labor rights. It was a human rights institution, so there was a huge contradiction there!
The election year was approaching and in Guatemala, a change of government usually leads to a change of the whole personnel in public institutions. We were therefore faced with the threat of dismissal and we knew that a military government might return to power. We finally decided to form a trade union with 3 objectives.
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