Petr Koutný, ECWM President, May 2019

The last European elections have given us the possibility of focusing on the rich and diverse mosaic which the European Union represents. At the same time, it is an occasion to reflect about what UE has been and is, and to think about the way it should take in the near future.

The EU concept is that of the common home inhabited by people with diverse characters, customs and postures. This fact supposes a huge richness to be respected and taken care of. At the same time we can say that, for the same reasons, our continent is not a paradise and coexistence has not always been idyllic, since there are many realities that -rightly- we consider painful, unpleasant or unfortunate.

But, let’s start with that could appear at the end of this reflection. The EU main objective from the beginning has been a peaceful coexistence of nations. And we must affirm that this purpose has been fulfilled in a wonderful way. We have the privilege that Europe has lived a long period of peace, that it is - from the historical point of view- something exceptional. It has been preferred to solve conflicts sitting around a table, based on dialogue.

In the period that has finished, the EU has had to face to several adversities that have endangered its cohesion. EU has had important tests with phenomena as brexit, the migratory crisis or terrorism that have divided the continent and have reinforced the anti-European trends.

 

The ECWM (European Christian Workers Movement) is a coordination of movements of christian workers from 10 European countries, fighting for a socially just Europe based on the Gospel and the Social Doctrine of the Church. With a view to the elections to the European Parliament, which will take place from 23 to 26 May 2019, we present our main demands. In this way, we fulfill our responsibility as citizens of the European Union (EU) by providing our point of view of christian workers.

The criterion of all political action

The foundation of our positions is the dignity of each person and our condition as daughters and sons of God. Politics at all levels must protect this dignity and promote it, which, for christians, is a requirement of the Gospel.

Consequences and suggestions

We consider the following demands, of vital importance for the development of our societies in the European context:

  • • The social dimension of the EU must oblige the Member States to do justice to every concrete human being with their concerns and needs, since more than 120 million people in Europe risk falling into poverty and social exclusion . The dignity of each of these people demands an urgent response.
  • • As suggested by the Social Commission of the COMECE (European Commission of Episcopal Conferences) in its November 2018 document, "Modeling the future of work", we ask everyone's effort to configure the work according to the criteria of human dignity (fair working conditions, decent income, balanced work schedules), sustainability (assuming our responsibility through ecological action), co-management through social dialogue and the participation of everyone in the work process.

From February 14 to 16, the VII European Social Week was held in Milan. The motto was "Solidarity, Subsidiarity and Common Good - ways to overcome poverty and social inequality in Europe".

It has been attended by almost 100 people, from 21 countries in Europe, representing organizations, parties, unions and Christian movements concerned about justice and social rights. Mr. Antoine Hérouard, president of the Social Commission of COMECE and auxiliary bishop of Lille (France) has also attended. On behalf of the MTCE, we have attended two representatives.

The following presentations, presentations and panels have been developed:

- Ways to get out of the social crisis in Europe

- Changes that await us in the world of work. Work for all?

- The digitalization of the economy and work

- Reality and new challenges in social dialogue

- The new European social order

 

The European Christian Workers Movement (ECWM) has participated in the conference "Building the future of work. A faith-based contribution to the initiative for the centenary of the ILO" that has been convened by the Commission of the Episcopal Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) on November 27, in Brussels.

The world of work faces profound changes. Digitization, the acceleration of globalization, artificial intelligence and the need for an ecological transition alter the conditions and the concept of work and employment. To respond to these challenges, the International Labour Organization (ILO) launched the Initiative on the Future of Labour as part of the centenary of this UN agency scheduled for 2019.

 

From 18 to 20 October 2018 the annual ECWM Seminar was held in Birmingham (England) with the theme: "Digital work - working anytime, anywhere - impact on workers and their families".

We gathered representatives of 12 Christian workers' movements from 10 European countries to discuss the impact of digital technologies on people, families and social life.

The seminar took place in different working dynamics: communication of experiences and testimonies, expert presentations, group work, plenary dialogues, etc.

The seminar has been structured in three parts: SEE, JUDGE and ACT. This is the formative pedagogy proper to our movements.

 

(Outcome of the ECWM seminar on "Decent Work and Precarious Employment" held from 12 to 15 July 2017 in Avila, Spain)

 

We find that:

Many people around the world are living in unworthy conditions because their basic needs are not guaranteed. They have no access to land, work and housing, which prevents them from enjoying a good life. The globalization of the economy has not had as a consequence a globalization of social rights. The power of multinational corporations in many ways makes it impossible to implement policies that are more respectful of the convictions of the people. Capitalism often drives forward a type of economic progress that does not involve social and environmental accountability. Work is gradually being replaced by precarious employment which, on the one hand, affects people’s health and, on the other, pushes them away and out of society. People are not given the same opportunities in life. Poverty and hunger continue to increase. Many are forced to leave their homeland, because of war and destruction or of poverty. The fate of refugees and migrants shows how unfair the current global economic order is. "This economy kills!" said Pope Francis in his apostolic letter Evangelii Gaudium.

 

 

Sixty participants from 11 European countries meet from 12th to 15th July at the CITES (Teresian-Sanjuanist International Centre) of the diocese of Avila to hold the annual seminar and General Congress of the European Christian Worker Movement (ECWM).

The seminar, which is being held for the second consecutive year in the city of Avila, focuses its contents, on this occasion, in the European situation regarding decent work and the alarming increase in precariousness throughout the continent.

The first part of the seminar will focus on analysing from personal experiences the consequences of the changes taking place in the labour world. KWB Belgium activists and members of the HKD Napredak organisation in Bosnia will also be present. There will also be a space for reflection and debate on the situation of migrants and refugees in the face of the desperate situation facing so many people and the almost absolute stagnation of European institutions. This moment will be accompanied by Alberto Plaza, Jesuit, director of Pueblos Unidos and member of the Jesuit Service to migrants in Spain.

A second part will address the role of the ILO and workers' organisations in achieving decent work. Bernard Thibault, who was secretary general of the CGT between 1999 and 2013, will participate. He is now a member of the ILO board of directors of France.

The priest Gerard Müller, ECWM accompanier, will consider a look at the labour world from the Word of God and the social doctrine of the Church. After this intervention the work groups will be started to deepen the situation addressed in the expositions.

On Friday the 14th, the participants of the seminar will visit two decent work experiences in Avila. They will know about the work carried out by Diocesan Caritas in supporting the creation of small businesses and the Special Employment Centre for people with disabilities, La Casa Grande de Martiherrero. At the end of these visits a street action is planned and participants, despite linguistic limitations, will approach the citizens of Avila to get their opinion on decent work.

At the end of the seminar the ECWM Congress will begin and will focus its work on the preparation of the General Congress of the World Movement of Christian Workers (WMCW) to be held in the days following the European meeting.

For further information, please contact Manolo Copé, ECWM coordinator, at +34650574823.

 

Delegates of Popular Movements from all over the world began the discussions for an action plan that is going to be presented to Pope Francis.

 200 delegates from organizations of different parts of the world attended to the opening panel of the Third World Meeting of Popular Movements. 

Members of Organizing Committee of WMPM welcomed all the asistants and explained the objectives of the Meeting:  Cardinal Peter Turkson of PCJP; João Pedro Stédile, from Movimiento de los Trabajadores Sin Tierra (MST) – La Vía Campesina (Brasil); Juan Grabois, from Movimiento de Trabajadores Excluidos (MTE) – Confederación de Trabajadores de la Economía Popular (CTEP) (Argentina); Jockin Arputham, from National Slum Dwellers Federation of India – Slum Dwellers International (SDI) (India) and Charo Castelló, Hermandad Obrera de Acción Católico (HOAC) – Movimiento Mundial de Trabajadores Cristianos (MMTC) (España).

During the interventions the organizing committee remarked the principal subjects of the debate; Land, Housing and Work, including panels about Peoples and Democracy; Territory and Nature; and the situation of refugees. All these realities and worries are going to be analyzed, discussed and synthetized in an action plan that is going to be handed to Pope Francis November 5th.

Cardenal Turkson reminded the words of Holy Father in the Laudato sí, focalizing in the social exclusion determinated by two factors: social and environment, reflected as the two sides of a coin. “In this Meeting we have invited you to discuss how we can change things, it’s not only about being agents of change to the outside, but being agents of change to the inside”. He add “We’re not work searchers, we are work makers and when we talk about work, housing, land and democracy the starting point is real people and their real problems. Beyond statistics it’s about concrete people”. Therefore Cardinal Tursk insisted “we’re going to discuss wich are the changes we need, and Church as Popular Movements will work together to promote the deepest changes our society needs”.

 Final declaration of the Seminar of the European Christian Workers Movement

We, movements of Christian workers from all over Europe, met in Avila from October 27th to October 30th, 2016 to learn about and evaluate the changes which are taking place in the world of work. On the basis of the personal experience and testimonies of the groups affected by these changes, the participants to the seminar analyzed the causes and consequences of these changes on young people and families.

The Seminar also reviewed the Report of Caritas Europe on poverty in Europe and discussed the prospects for the world of work from the perspective of the social Doctrine of the Church. This was done by evaluating the work done by both Church and trade union organisations in order to cope with the consequences on people of the current world of work. Finally, the movements also reflected about the challenges that both Church and society are facing as a consequence of the current changes in the world of work.

Challenges related to decent work

Benedict XVI reminds us, in Caritas in veritate, that decent work is “the expression of the essential dignity of all men and women” (N. 63). Consequently, if work is not decent, workers will not be able to have a dignified life. The increasingly precarious work conditions are one of the most devastating consequences for people, families and society. In his speech to the European Parliament in November 2014, Pope Francis affirmed that it “was especially necessary to regive dignity to work and also guarantee that the right conditions are in place to ensure that this is achieved”.

We will find answers to the current situation of the world of work only if we find ways and means to reaffirm the dignity of work. To do so, it is essential to deeply rethink the meaning we give to work.

We are facing many challenges: positioning the person at the center of everything, giving work a meaning and a value that goes beyond employment, ensuring dignified condition of work, that contribute to humanizing work, ensuring universal access to health, housing, education, etc without conditioning these rights to having a paid job. We are also facing a transformation of the world of work because of the increased robotization and computerization

CHANGES IN THE WORLD OF WORK.

Causes and consequences for the lives of workers.

 

From 27th to 30th October, the annual conference and general assembly of the European Movement of Christian Workers (ECWM) will be held at the CITES (International Teresian Centre) of the diocese of Avila.

The seminar focuses its contents on the changes in the world of work, the causes and consequences of these changes in the lives of working families.

The opening session will be attended by the Bishop of the diocese of Avila, Mons. Jesús García Burillo, the mayor of the city, José Luis Rivas and the vicepresident of EZA (European Centre for Workers' Questions) Herbert Metzger. Also will be Manuel Candil, president of HOAC Ávia and Jose Fernando Almazán, president of HOAC Spain.

The first part of the seminar will focus on analyzing from personal experiences, the consequences it is having the changes that are occurring in the workplace. Speakers will be young militants of the JOC of Avila and also members of the PAHs of Avila.

A second part, in the morning, will address the contents of the report of Caritas Europe "Ending poverty in Europe. Our proposals to make this possible. To deepen the content of this report will accompany us Pedro Fuentes, a sociologist and member of Team studies Caritas Spain. Also we have the presence of Thomas Wallimann, Director of the Social Institute of Switzerland, the movement of Christian workers in Switzerland (KAB) that raise the outlook for the world of work today, from the social doctrine of the Church.

In the afternoon there will be a work in groups to address the causes and consequences of the current situation in the world of work and then there will be two visits to the city: Caritas Ávila to know the employment program of this entity and another visit at the headquarters of workers' comissions to share a round table with trade unions USO, UGT and CCOO.

The third part of the seminar will address the challenges that changes in the world of work and its current orientation presented to the Church and society. The content of this part will develop Montxo López, a militant of HOAC Bilbao and member of the working Pastoral of the Diocese of Bilbao.

At the end of the seminar, the Assembly of ECWM focus its work on the preparation of the General Assembly of the World Movement of Christian Workers, MMTC. The meeting will be held next July also in the city of Avila, where they will attend representatives of Christian workers of all parts of the world.

 

The movements of Christian workers in Europe prepare actions for the World Day for Decent Work (7 October)

 

 
 
 

http://acocat.org/noticia/propostes-fer-nostre-el-7-o-dia-del-treball-decent

Comece-MTCE Seminario

From Rerum Novarum (1891) to Laudato si (2015). Catholic Social Teaching as a reference for social and ecological welfare. This was the title of the seminar organised in Brussels by the European Movement of Christian Workers and COMECE (Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community) on 3rd May.

This seminar aimed to make a tour around the social message along these 125 years, since Leo XIII wrote Rerum Novarum, has been given by the various Popes, and the evolution of the social doctrine of the Church up to Laudato Si. The seminar concluded with a round table where different speakers discussed some issues about it. Here youcan find the program (in English).

The seminar continued in the afternoon with a reception in which two European parliamentarians participated. European People's Party: Elmar Brok, and the Party of European Socialists: Patrizia Toia. Joining them Professor Gabriel Ingeborg, vice president of Justice and Peace Europe, shared a memorable talk.

Several bishops accompanied us, but Mons. Gianni Ambrosio, vice president of COMECE and Chairman of its Committee on Social Affairs, and Mr Patrick H. Daly, General Secretary were present during the whole event. In addition to activists of the movements of Christian workers from different countries that are part of this European coordination, we share this seminar with members of various bishops' conferences (Germany, France, Ireland, etc ...), religious organizations that are coordinated at European level: Caritas Europe, European Jesuit, Justice and Peace Europe, Catholic universities (Salamanca, Milan, Leuven, Paris ...) and CEC (Conference of European Churches).

Otto Meier

Labor, bread and dignity – The people want and deserve a better Europe.

“Alejandro Riega and Veronica Aversa are visibly very tired but equally happy. They wandered for three weeks, as many of their compatriots, from the extreme north west of Spain to Madrid. ‘Marches for dignity’, that’s how they named the ongoing protest against the austerity policies of the conservative Prime Minister, Marriano Rajoy.” (from Badische Zeitung, 24 March 2014)

Spain, Portugal, Greece,… the EU as a whole is currently in a state of disrepair. The ongoing crisis, which began as a financial crisis and continued as a debt crisis, has resulted in a loss of trust towards the European policy, more specifically in a loss of trust in the European project itself. Unemployment, precarious working conditions and low pay areas represent a major challenge.
Youth unemployment has reached dramatic proportions, especially in these countries which are extremely affected by the crisis, a crisis that increases and intensifies the social division in Europe. The social gap and inequality in member states and in Europe is growing rapidly. It is a scandal that the rich get richer as profiteers of the crises while the number of poor people is increasing.
 
The ECMW sees therefore an urgent need for action in order to build a social, both honest and credible, persuasive and human Europe to secure the basic values of the European Union and to be able to shape the future of Europe. Only a social and fair Europe creates acceptance and consent, as well as a sense of belonging of the employee in Europe.
Our belief is clear: if we want to give globalization a human appearance, we must ensure that Europe proves itself as a model of social equality for all. This Europe of the future must be a new, a different Europe, a Europe which implements the concept of a European social model in actions. For the realization of the social integration of Europe, ECWM gives priority to employment prior to the capital. (encyclical letter Laborem exercens)