by Joanna Moorhead
THE Catholic bishops this week delivered a strong attack on the Government, accusing it of being "intent upon rendering trade unions powerless".
In a working party report entitled A Threefold Cord, the bishops contrast government policies on trade unions with Catholic social teaching. They say that "the past decade has seen a steady undermining of the strength and rights of trade unions by legislation, inspired by the present Government's belief that there is no such thing as society, only individuals and families. This runs contrary to the belief of Christians."
The report was warmly welcomed by Norman Willis, TUC general secretary, who called it "a most useful and authoritative statement about the value of trade unionism". It showed, he said, that the Government was "seriously out of step with important sections of the community in refusing to acknowledge the positive role that unions play".
But a Department of Employment spokesperson defended government policy, saying trade unions which work
within the law are likely to be stronger, not weaker, when it comes to protecting members' interests.
Amongst other things, the bishops' report criticises the Government's view that a trade unionist has the right to put his own interests before those of fellow workers. "If a member of the Government were to vote against government policy, that member would be shown the door very quickly," it points out.
The report was written by the World of Work Committee.
A Threefold Cord is published by CTS, price El.