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A Reflection for Labour Day Weekend.

By David Poultney in Sermons

the struggle for worker's rights isn't over

Much of the world celebrates Labour Day, however it may be called, on 1st May. For some that this became a major public celebration in the USSR and the Communist bloc tainted it somewhat. Without cause I think. May 1st in Aotearoa New Zealand is decidedly in autumn, our late October celebration is of course subject to the vagaries of the Southern Spring. However it is worth taking this day to reflect on the progress made and the progress yet to be made in the rights of workers.
The economy changes all the time, we have seen it adapt and sometimes fail in the face of the Covid Pandemic. We think how in recent years some jobs we utterly took for granted have reduced greatly in number and how jobs in apparently secure careers have proved to be anything but. There are far fewer people employed as bank clerks or posties, did you ever imagine mail only being delivered every other day?
Think of some of the jobs which have proliferated in the pandemic in delivering food and a range of goods we might normally purchase directly from shops. How secure are these jobs? What rights do these workers have? We hear of workers in Amazon warehouses in the United States who end up wearing adult diapers because they cannot take a toilet break. In some parts of the world there are problems delivering goods because the terms and conditions lorry drivers work under are unappealing.
The struggle for worker’s rights isn’t over. Yet if your social concerns were gained simply from what you hear in churches up and down the land you might never know. That I am afraid is true of some Methodist churches where concern for a private spirituality, a me and my God Christianity, has displaced any sense of what Methodists call social holiness. An enacting of righteousness in society, love expressed in the form of justice.
From time to time Methodists have expressed this conviction through the issuing of Social Principles, this is a form of them from our own denomination you may be familiar with.
1) The sacredness of human personality and the equal value of all men and women in the sight of God.
2) Adequate opportunities of employment for all those willing and able to work, and reasonable standards of living for those, who because of age or infirmity, are not able to work.
3) The co-operation of employers and employees for the benefit of the community.
4) The duty of all to render conscientious service, the condemnation of scamped work, of sweated labour and of consumer exploitation.
5) The right to a just return for services rendered and the right to good housing, and a healthy environment.
6) The wise use and careful conservation of the world’s physical resources.
7) The removal of the root causes of poverty, unemployment and war.
8) The promoting of social and industrial reforms by lawful means.
9) The right to freedom of conscience, constitutional liberty, secrecy of the ballot and access to the Courts.
10) Christian influence in politics and civic affairs.
11) The conviction that the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ contains the message that will promote effectively the regeneration of reconstruction of society.
I leave these with you for your reflection this long weekend David Poultney