The YCW attended an event this week held by Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN) and the Centre for Catholic Social Thought and Practice to mark the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Trade Union Congress.
The meeting was to gain insights from Catholic Social Teaching into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, with issues of automation, Brexit, workers’ rights, discrimination and the gig economy being discussed.
The Conference posed the question: How do we face the threats and opportunities presented by this new world, so that no one is left behind and all are respected and valued?
With the world of work changing so substantially over the last 20 years, innovative solutions are needed to protect the interests of workers. The principles behind this will be incredibly important and Catholic Social Teaching represents an opportunity to influence this.
The organisers of the event spoke about the nature of work, saying: "Workers have an inalienable right to human dignity and their labour cannot be reduced to a commodity. Work is both an obligation and a right, for it is a means of human fulfilment by which a person may become "more a human being".
The event hosted several high profile speakers:
Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the NEU, 2017 President of the TUC
Bishop William Kenney, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Birmingham
Rob Flello, Political consultant, former Labour MP and shadow Justice Minister
and held panel discussions with:
Dr Anna Rowlands, Associate Professor of Catholic Social Thought & Practice, Clifford Longley, author, broadcaster and journalist
Kevin Flanagan, National President GMB Commercial Services Section
In terms of Catholic Social Teaching, the theme of work has been very prominent since Rerum Novarum. Perhaps the fullest discussion of human work is in St Pope John Paul II's encyclical Laborem Exercens (1981), saying: "human work is a key, probably the essential key, to the whole social question."
Marc Besford, YCW Training and Development Worker, who attended the Conference said: "It was an enlightening day, with lots of useful and insightful comments on the challenges many young people face around work. It was great to be able to share some of the experiences of our young members with the panel."