Sunday, 9 November 2014

Business taking Church for mugs in blueprint process

The real danger of the Blueprint for Better  Business process is that the Church could be being used as a fig leaf by corporations which in reality carry on with business as usual.

The five principles: be honest, be a good citizen, have a purpose, be responsive and be a guardian are not exactly challenging concepts – most businesses would sign up, if for no other reason than corporate profile.

Many would have more belief if the businesses in question signed up to some measurable changes such as commitment to collective bargaining and trade union recognition, a living wage, closing the pay gap between directors and workers, the outlawing of zero hour contracts and working toward shorter working weeks. The companies could also pay their taxes in this country.

The total lack of any representation in the blueprint process from the workers who actually produce the profits is a very basic flaw. One incidentally that is easily detectable, given a cursory reading of Catholic Social Thought on the relations between workers and employers. The occasional trade unionist has been invited along to make up the numbers on the odd panel but there has never been a proper platform provided for those who represent millions in this country.

If the business leaders really do find British trade union leaders so repellent, then maybe a German trade union leader could be invited. In Germany, the trade unions play a key role in partnership with business, working together for the common good. Maybe a German business leader as well to confirm and expand on that perspective.

The worry with the Blueprint process is that it comes over as a one sided exercise that the Church has been naively drawn into by business. If it is to continue and have meaning the process must be widened beyond a small clique of business leaders whose primary aim is no doubt self-interest.

* published in Tablet - 8/11/2014 

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