Friday, March 26, 2010

European Churches join ‘keep Sunday free of work’ Campaign: "This campaign should build up huge public pressure"

GENEVA — More than 70 organizations, including churches, trades unions and civil society groups, have met in the European Parliament in Brussels for the first European Conference on a work-free Sunday.

More than 400 participants on March 24 launched an appeal to the heads of states and governments, calling for a Sunday free of work for all European citizens.

“The protection of a work-free Sunday is of paramount importance for workers’ health, for the reconciliation of work and family life, as well as for the life of civil society as a whole," the lobbyists said in a statement released by the Conference of European Churches to Ecumenical News International. “This common weekly day of rest serves to strengthen social cohesion in our societies, a cohesion so severely undermined by the current economic crisis.”

The Rev. Radiger Noll, director of the Church and Society Commission of the European churches, told the Brussels meeting, “More than any other day of the week, a free Sunday offers the opportunity to be with one’s family and friends. Common free time is an important precondition for a participatory society, which allows its members to engage in civil activities.”

Earlier in March, Martin Kastler, a European Parliament member for Germany’s co-governing Christian Social Union, launched the EU’s first international citizens’ referendum to restore Sunday as a day for rest and family life.

“This is the right time to show that, as European citizens, we want to involve ourselves not only through elections but also in other ways,” said Kastler.

His statement was published after the launch of the campaign, “Mum and Dad belong to us on Sunday.” This is the first European Citizens Initiative to emerge under the December 2009 Lisbon Treaty. Kastler said the treaty had given ordinary Europeans an “opportunity to stand up for their concerns.” He urged sympathizers across the continent to “strengthen direct democracy” by signing the campaign’s petition.

This campaign should build up huge public pressure. In this way, no one will be able to ignore us,” said 35-year-old Kastler, who is a father of two. “Europe should be the most child-friendly region in the world, so people from different political and social backgrounds should rally behind the protection of Sunday.”

Calls for the preservation of work-free Sundays have increased in the 27 countries of the European Union, where many shops and businesses now routinely require staff to turn up on weekends without extra pay.Read Entire Article