THE implication that all unofficial strikes are wrong was denounced by Jesuit Father Rodger Charles in last Sunday's television debate on the Government's Bill for reforming labour relations. The 41-year-old former bricklayer-turned-priest supported Mrs. Barbara Castle, who claimed that the recent upsurge of strikes reflected the common man's urge to realise his own significance.
Many unofficial strikes, Fr. Charles said, arose from utter frustration, and there seemed no other way. If employers invoked the proposed legislation. against the sponsors of such strikes, the bitterness of martyrdom would set industrial relations back by generations.
Tn the debate, Fr. Charles recognised the positive values of the Conservative programme, but feared it would have the effect of reversing the Party's avowed policy of stimulating responsibility. It was right, he said, to allow a man the conscientious right to opt out of union membership, but wrong to equate that decision in value with the choice to be a trade unionist. The two decisions should not have equal rights.
It was not a case of opting out of a necessary evil, like a pacifist in wartime, but of opting out of a moderate and statesmanlike tradition which had proved to be vital to the life of the country over many years.
BRYAN DEFENDS In the Granada television programme, the Bill was defended by Mr. Paul Bryan, Minister of State at the Department of Employment, and opposed by his parliamentary "shadow", Mrs. Barbara Castle, whose own measures for reforming industrial re lations were eventually dropped by the previous government.
Fr. Charles has already published a controversial study of "Man, Industry and Society", and his Oxford Doctoral thesis on "The Development of Collective Bargaining in Great Britain" will be published next year.
THE "Letter on Social Problems" written recently by Pope Paul "is a frightening statement of our social responsibilities."
This was stated in the Pastoral Letter from the Bishop of Lancaster, read in the churches of his diocese on the First Sunday of Advent.
We must all examine our consciences. the Bishop said, and decide whether we are prepared to support charities out of our own pockets, or to pay higher taxes so that our government may make larger
contributions to povertystricken countries and disaster areas.
Are the young, he asked, ready to leave their country to assist in the development of backward nations?
We should take the Pope's letter to heart, and during Advent read and ponder on what he has written. The recent fearful disaster in Pakistan provided an example of the duty of affluent nations to go to the rescue of poorer ones.