Today, we lost something that generations of Australians that came before fought for- the recognition that community, family and leisure time matter and that if business wants to encroach on it they have to a pay a penalty in the form of higher wages to their employees. Some will say the cuts are fair, for a range of reasons, but especially because we live in a 24/7 economy so our weekend time is no longer so special. But, all other arguments to the contrary, we don’t live in an economy. We live in communities and families.
Whatever your personal take on the loss of Sunday penalty rates for retail and hospitality workers, we desperately need to have conversations about and push against this idea that the economy is the single most important system in our lives to which all things and people must be subservient. Like the Australian Bishops have argued in this year’s Social Justice Statement, an economy is always and everywhere to be at the service of humanity. It’s primary role is to provide a living wage to all so as to recognise their rightful claim on the Earth’s goods, but also as response to their innate, God-given, inalienable dignity. ‘The economy’ is not some naturally occurring or immutable structure over which we have no control, the language around this campaign would suggest otherwise – that we in fact don’t shape it, have no control over it. But we do. Economies are entirely the work of human hands and minds so why should we continue to bow down to the economy as the most important feature in defining and creating meaning in our lives?
Economics are important, we can’t do away with them, but will we stand idly by why our current approach undermines our personal health, the integrity of our families and marriages and makes it ever harder to grow any sense of community or social support?
If you haven’t already take a little time to read the current Social Justice Statement, Everyone’s Business: Building an Inclusive and Sustainable Economy’, and get involved however you can.
For more on the loss of penalty rates click here.