True justice and fairness for the work of women, the poor and migrants
In his address to UN body, Holy See envoy calls for the respect of the work performed by the weakest groups. Equal pay for equal work and child protection should be governing principles.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – In his address to 45th session of the Commission for Social Development of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the permanent observer of the Holy See, Mgr Celestino Migliore, said that equal pay for equal work, family reunification for migrants, and protection of working parents should be priorities  for the UN agency. For the Vatican envoy, this year’s focus—‘Priority Theme: Promoting full employment and decent work for all’—, rings especially true for the weakest groups. Governments, he insisted, should not abdicate this responsibility; such priorities are part of a balanced development which is what all nations want, including the poorest ones.

For Mgr Migliore, a “constant policy goal at national and international levels must surely be the creation of a balance between economic development on the one hand and social justice on the other, enshrined in law, which protects workers and promotes their rights,” in particular for those who are in great difficulty.

The Vatican diplomat focused on specific situations. He denounced the unfairness of gender-based job evaluation. “Equal pay for equal work seems obvious, but women are still too often overlooked or undervalued in this regard,” he said. “The equality of women and men should be evident also in their treatment in the workplace, in salaries and in the acquisition of pensions.

Such contradictions are present in many societies, including those organised principally according to the criteria of efficiency and productivity. For this reason, “equality will be seen immediately through equal pay for equal work, protection for working mothers and fairness in career advancement.

Furthermore, “working parents, both women and men, should be assisted, if necessary by law, to bring their own unique and irreplaceable contribution to the upbringing of their children, to the evident benefit of the whole of society,” he noted. “It is also important that men and women with families receive adequate and fair wages that are sufficient to meet ordinary family needs, especially in view of their responsibilities towards their children.”

A just wage will also eliminate the need for the very poor to force their children to work, to the detriment of their education. “Child labour exploitation,” he stressed, “is a moral question.”

The very poor and migrant workers are two other groups that deserve the Commission’s attention, Mgr Migliore said.

Access to “decent, safe and fulfilling work” for the extreme poor should be society’s goal, something fundamental for their social advancement and development.

As for migrant workers, “they not only earn a salary for themselves and their families” but have “become an important source of wealth for their host countries. [. . .] They are often motivated by the simple wish to work in order to support their families. They too deserve equal pay and equal protection under the law, not least because the jobs they do are often the ones that no one else wants. Legal arrangements should be made to allow families to reunite, not only for the sanity of family life, but also to the social and moral benefit of the communities around them.

Sadly for migrant workers, “too often a lack of normal family life leads to evils such as human trafficking and prostitution on the margins of migrant communities. The market for such modern slavery could be undermined by allowing families to live together in the receiving country.”

Finally, Mgr Migliore concluded saying: “Work is a right but it is also the duty of all people to contribute to the good of their society and the whole human family.