Tackles the injustice of forced labour and poor labour rights, whilst calling for job creation with fair pay,
equal opportunities and a focus on the worlds poorest.
2.2 Billion people live below the $2US a day poverty line. Sustainable poverty eradication is only possible through stable, well paid jobs. But, is this just a business issue or does our faith have anything distinctive to say about our economy and employment? James 5:4 gives us little room to simply skip past this.
To End Extreme Poverty by 2030, We Need to Tackle Inequality, World Bank
+ THEOLOGICAL REFLECTION
...we worked night and day, labouring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. Thessalonians 3:8-9
The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. James 5:4
It is pretty widely accepted that poverty is best halted and eradicated not through charity, or even aid exclusively, but by the development of previously poor countries and regions, so that they might have the capacity to ensure decent lifestyles for their populations. However, Christians and others have expressed some concern about this approach, of requiring ever increasing economic growth. In a finite world where many of our key resources are inevitably limited, is it feasible or even possible to promote such a course of action? Does it not pander to basic human instincts of selfish consumption, greed and inevitably lead to the squeezing of the most vulnerable as scarcity, in all its forms, begins to bite?
Again the Bible’s key themes, of creation, stewardship and justice, require us to think about the consequences for economics. The verses above illustrate that people, as workers, ought to sit centre stage in a just economy. Furthermore, Biblical principles like Sabbath and Jubilee seem to point to an emphasis on issues like a continual care for the land and all the resources of production, a structural prevention of sharp and lasting differences in wealth and income, a potential restriction on the unfettered use of capital, fair wages, valued work etc.
It is significant then that Goal 8, enabling economic growth, deliberately includes issues around employment and decent work as well. Economic growth cannot become a ‘god’, an ultimate end to be achieved regardless of the consequences. However, when focused on the least developed countries, there is a target of 7% GDP growth for these particularly, who have the most potential to grow the quickest, it can be a powerful agent. Aided by technology and innovation, ring-fenced by the wider perspectives of all these goals, regarding the environment and social justice, growth can provide a basis for sustainable work, undercutting the scourge of unemployment, dehumanising working practises and forced or even slave labour. An effective economy and labour market could also challenge issues of corruption and human trafficking. A truly Christian economic perspective can applaud and strive for that end, with enthusiasm and vigour.
+ DISCUSSION POINTS
- Do you think that faith has anything distinctive to say about our economy? In the reflection what particularly stuck out for you? Did you agree or disagree?
- In your experience, what are the key issues surrounding work in the developed world and globally?
- How do you approach your economic decisions? Does what you spend, give, use, consume reflect your faith values?
- How might you pray and act in this area more Biblically?
+ GOAL 8 IN ACTION
Ezrah’s vision is to unravel the complexities of a poverty stricken life cycle by joining the hands of private, public and third sector organisations, for the benefit of their communities. This London based initiative breaks the cycle of long-term unemployment, through a 16-week voluntary employability programme.
Ezrah Employability supports those with significant barriers to employment, including but not limited to a criminal record, history of addiction, mental health issues, debt and literacy issues. Nothing excites Ezrah more than seeing businesses create positive change in their communities. It has a firm belief that every business has the opportunity to be a force for good and can generate social impact.
By working in collaborative partnership with businesses, alongside public and third sector agencies, we make it possible for adults facing challenges in finding employment to gain work experience in a real business, receive expert employability training and tailored one on one coaching and mentoring support.
+ WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT?
Personal – Get involved with Ezrah as an employment mentor or sponsor a participant.
Local – Connect Ezrah to your company and become an employment partner.
International – Only buy from companies that treat workers fairly and care about the environment. Check out thegoodshoppingguide.com