May Day Message Recognizes Most Vulnerable

NEW DELHI, India, APRIL 22, 2007 ( Despite a growing economy, 93% of workers in India are unprotected by legislation or trade unions, say the Indian Catholic bishops' in a statement on the occasion of May Day.

The May Day Message issued by the Commission of Labor of the Catholic bishops' conference of India (CBCI), considered ways to improve the lives of workers in light of India's growing economy.

Focusing on the most vulnerable, the May Day Message underlined the need to find new ways to relieve the suffering of children, migrants and women who frequently find themselves victims of forced labor or human trafficking.

Bishop Joshua Mar Ignatios, chairman of Commission for Labor of the CBCI, said he and his fellow prelates are "committed to strengthening all the labor initiatives which lead to the dignity of workers and eventually to the development of the nation."

Faster than ever

The Indian economy, according to the May Day message, is experiencing "reasonable growth in GDP and strong Indian rupee."

Tourism, financial services, insurance, banking and the service industries all report various stages of continued growth, with "impressive progress in information technology," and a boom in construction to meet the housing needs of the middle class.

Bishop Ignatios said in the May Day message, "Employment opportunities are growing faster than ever, especially technically and academically skilled personnel are finding it easier to get well paid jobs. The advent of many foreign companies has raised a big demand for well-qualified hands."

Forgotten sector

Despite all the good economic news, India's labor force, the bishops' message says, "is constituted of both the unorganized and the organized sector."

According to the latest statistics, the unorganized sector, making up 93% of the work force "is considered least and hardly receives any attention."

"They are an unprotected lot as they do not benefit from any legislation or even the trade unions," Bishop Ignatios continued. "Sadly the most vulnerable in the unorganized sector are children, women and migrants, who are also closely connected with felonious human trafficking."

Finding solutions

To find solutions, the May Day message called for action in "the trade unions, labor movements, labor facilitation centers that should take up the issues of laborers," including better labor legislation and its enforcement.

The bishops' message cautioned that "there is no magical solution but only the 'sweat on the forehead' for the fulfillment of man that leads to the development of society and thereby his own liberation."

Bishop Ignatios added that workers are "not mere chattel but partners with the Creator. [The worker's] actualization can be attained only in partnership with the Creator realizing his likeness embedded in us."

Code: ZE07042227

Date: 2007-04-22

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