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A podcast about faith, work, theology, and economics

March 18, 2018

Ergasia Digest #6 - 18.3.18


In this edition of Ergasia Digest, we examine ongoing moves in the US to destroy the ability of labour unions to collectively bargain, the consequences of so-called "crypto-colonialism", the state of Australian workplace culture, and what happens when unions and governments support workplace agreements that have potentially negative human rights implications. Through it all, we'll pose the question: whose interest is being served - the network of human digniy Christianity understands as covenantal relationship, or the dehumanising powers of political and institutional prerogative?


Irvine, Jessica, "'Shocking' levels of sexual harassment at work, study reveals", located at https://www.theage.com.au/business/careers/shocking-levels-of-sexual-harassment-at-work-study-reveals-20180305-p4z2wn.html

Yarovaya, Larisa and Lucey, Brian "Should Bitcoin be used to help countries hit by disaster?" located at http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20180305-should-bitcoin-be-used-to-help-countries-hit-by-disaster

McNicholas, Celine; Mokhiber, Zane; and von Wilpert, Marni "Janus and fair share fees: The organizations financing the attack on unions’ ability to represent workers" located at http://www.epi.org/publication/janus-and-fair-share-fees-the-organizations-financing-the-attack-on-unions-ability-to-represent-workers/

Hinchliffe, Joe "Victorian government calls for biggest minimum wage boost since 2010" located at https://www.theage.com.au/politics/victoria/victorian-government-calls-for-biggest-minimum-wage-boost-since-2010-20180311-p4z3ui.html

McKenzie, Nick; Tomazin, Farrah; and Baker, Richard "The report the firefighters' union did not want you to see", located at https://www.theage.com.au/politics/victoria/the-report-the-firefighters-union-did-not-want-you-to-see-20180305-p4z2xy.html

Olekains, Mara "How to ask for a pay rise" located at https://theconversation.com/how-to-ask-for-a-pay-rise-797560

March 10, 2018

Ergasia Special Episode No.1 - Work As Worship Retreat: A Conference Review, Part 2


In this second part of the first ever Ergasia Special Episode, your host Brendan Byrne continues his review of the Work As Worship Retreat and concludes with his thoughts on the event as a whole - including the urgent message for the so-called "mainstream church" implicit in this event.

March 10, 2018

Ergasia Special Episode No.1 - Work As Worship Retreat: A Conference Review, Part 1


Announcing the first ever Ergasia Special Episode! A new initiative of the Ergasia podcast, bringing you ocassional interviews, events, and other matters relevant to the interconnection between faith and work that are not covered in either Ergasia or Ergasia Digest.

For this first ever Ergasia Special Episode, your host Brendan Byrne details his recent participation in the Work As Worship retreat, which brought together speakers from the world of church and business.

March 4, 2018

Ergasia Digest #5 - 4.3.18


Welcome to Ergasia Digest #5. In this episode, we examine the effect of the Trump administration's corporate tax cuts, reveal the potential impact of proposed labour reforms in Japan, and note the ongoing efforts by governments in the Asia-Pacific region to revive the Trans-Pacific Partnership. And through it all, ask the question: what do Christ's teachings call Christians to do in response to these developments?


Author Unknown, "Abe apologizes again after 117 flaws found in labor study", located at http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201802230046.html

Author Unknown, "Billionaire reports record quarterly and annual profit for Berkshire Hathaway, in large part due to Congress’s tax code changes", located at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/feb/24/warren-buffett-says-republican-tax-cut-delivered-29bn-to-his-company

Wearden, Graeme and Elliott, Larry "Reforms may threaten recovery and lead to bigger US budget deficit, says Christine Lagarde", located at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/jan/26/imf-chief-warns-trumps-tax-cuts-could-destabilise-global-economy

Author Unknown, "Revised TPP faces obstacles on road to ratification", located at https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/International-Relations/Revised-TPP-faces-obstacles-on-road-to-ratification

Author Unknown, "Vatican magazine denounces nuns’ servitude", located at http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0004278870

Author Unknown, "Abe to remove controversial plan", located at http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0004275653

Author Unknown, "Japanese reporter died after 159 hours of overtime", located at https://tribune.com.pk/story/1524391/japanese-reporter-died-159-hours-overtime/


February 24, 2018

Ergasia Digest #4 - 24.2.18


Welcome to Ergasia Digest #4, the first roundup of news from the world of work, faith, theology, and economics for 2018. This week: what does a theology of work say about ideological blindness, and the responsibility of Christians when confronted by political and social policies that impact on the poor and the powerless in favour of the wealthy and the powerful.


Jones, Janelle and Zipperer, Ben "Unfulfilled promises: Amazon fulfillment centers do not generate broad-based employment growth", located at http://www.epi.org/publication/unfulfilled-promises-amazon-warehouses-do-not-generate-broad-based-employment-growth/

Hultgreen, Anna Kristina "What Call Centres Can Tell Us About Sexism", located at http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20180208-the-female-ghetto-of-workplaces

Eslake, Saul "Is Faster Profit Growth Essential For A Pick Up In Wages Growth?", located at https://theconversation.com/is-faster-profit-growth-essential-for-a-pick-up-in-wages-growth-83819

Butler, Sarah "Apocalypse Now For Britain's Retailers As Low Wages and the Web Cause Ruin", located at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/feb/17/uk-retail-industry--gloom-high-street-shift-consumers

Blair, Hunter "The Trump administration’s infrastructure plan remains empty talk and will be paid for by cuts to programs that help working people", located at http://www.epi.org/blog/the-trump-administrations-infrastructure-plan-remains-empty-talk-and-will-be-paid-for-by-cuts-to-programs-that-help-working-people/


February 12, 2018

Episode 13 - The Dream Betrayed, Part I: The Dilemma Of The Working Class


In this episode of Ergasia, we begin an examination of the relationship between the Church and the working class through the book The Dream Betrayed: Religious Challenge of the Working Class by the Lutheran pastor and theologian, Karen L Bloomquist. Bloomquist begins by identifying the central dilemma of the working class in modernity: their betrayal by the neoliberal dream of upward social and economic mobility in return for a lifetime of hard work. But she also begins setting the scene for how the Church often fails to respond to the reality of that dilemma; and how it can develop a theology of incarnational ministry that propetically challenges the prevailing order, instead of merely helping individuals in distress.


Bloomquist, Karen L., The Dream Betrayed: Religious Challenge of the Working Class. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1990.

January 5, 2018

A New Year’s Message From Ergasia

Firstly, I would like to thank everyone who has supported Ergasia and Ergasia Digest in 2017, and to wish everyone a safe, happy, and blessed 2018.

Secondly, this is just a quick note to let you know this podcast will be going into a brief hiatus over January 2018. No, I am not going away on holidays, nor am I experiencing "technical difficulties". Rather, my family and I are about to undertake that fun adventure known as "moving house".

In practical terms, this means the next couple of weeks will be taken up with all the non-stop excitement of packing boxes, discovering all the stuff from the last move which was never unpacked and now needs to be moved again, as well as the unbridled joy of dealing with utility companies as I arrange for the transfer of phone, internet, and power supplies from our old residence to our new.

So I am afraid that both Ergasia and Ergasia Digest are going to be off the air for a short time. But don't worry, I plan to be back in the saddle by late January or early February (a timeline probably highly dependent on the state of my sanity and whether or not I can connect to the WWW again) and bringing more reflections, news, and ponderances from the world of faith, work, theology, and economics.

Once again, thanks for your support, and Happy 2018 to you all!

Brendan Byrne
Content Creator, Producer, Host
Ergasia and Ergasia Digest

December 24, 2017

Ergasia Digest #3 - 24.12.17


Welcome to Ergasia Digest #3, a roundup of the news from the world of faith, work, economics and theology. This week: what happens when corporations and unions, or corporations and governments, conspire to promote their own self-interest instead of the interest of the wider community; and how does adherence to economic ideology and political expediency impact the poorest and most vulnerable workers in the community?


Schneiders, Ben and Millar, Royce “Secret Woolworths deal with Shoppies union cuts wages”. Located at http://www.theage.com.au/national/investigations/secret-woolworths-deal-with-shoppies-union-cuts-wages-20171216-h05t1p.html

Pegg, David “Paradise Papers prompt criminal complaint against Glencore”. Located at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/dec/21/paradise-papers-prompt-criminal-complaint-against-glencore

Shierholz, Heidi; Cooper, David; and Wolfe, Julia “Employers would pocket $5.8 billion of workers’ tips under Trump administration’s proposed ‘tip stealing’ rule”. Located at http://www.epi.org/publication/employers-would-pocket-workers-tips-under-trump-administrations-proposed-tip-stealing-rule/

Jones, Janelle “18 states will increase their minimum wages on January 1, benefitting 4.5 million workers” http://www.epi.org/publication/18-states-will-increase-their-minimum-wages-on-january-1-benefitting-4-5-million-workers/

Author Unknown, “Loss of EU trade benefits could cost Cambodia $700m annually” Located at https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/Economy/Loss-of-EU-trade-benefits-could-cost-Cambodia-700m-annually

December 21, 2017

Ergasia Digest #2 - 21.12.17


Welcome to Ergasia Digest #2, a roundup of the news from the world of faith, work, economics and theology. This week: the initial impacts of cutting penalty rates on employment opportunity and economic activity; the correlation (if any) between employment vacancies, employment rates, and wages growth; and productivity, human health, and hours of work.



Bagshaw, Erik “Penalty rate cut fails to stimulate jobs, survey shows”. Located at http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/penalty-rate-cut-fails-to-stimulate-jobs-survey-shows-20171213-h04csj.html

Elliott, Larry “Fall in employment rate spells end of UK jobs boom”. Locate at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/dec/13/fall-in-employment-rate-spells-end-of-uk-jobs-boom

Ferguson, Adele and Danckert, Sarah “'Don't speak out': franchise giant RFG warns against complaining publicly”. Located at http://www.theage.com.au/business/retail/dont-speak-out-franchise-giant-rfg-warns-against-complaining-publicly-20171209-h01y1i.html

Hutchens, Gareth “Penalty rate cuts followed by weakest consumer spending since 2008”. Located at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/dec/12/penalty-rate-cuts-followed-by-weakest-consumer-spending-since-2008

Ruggeri, Amanda “The compelling case for working a lot less”. Located at http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20171204-the-compelling-case-for-working-a-lot-less

December 9, 2017

Ergasia Digest #1 - 9.12.17


Welcome to Ergasia Digest #1 - a weekly round-up of news from the world of faith, work, theology, and economics. This is a new initiative of the Ergasia podcast, bringing real news stories into contact with theological reflection, posing questions from the perspective of a Christian theology of work.



Martin, Peter  "Big firms including News Corp, Exxon and Chevron paid no tax in 2016, Tax Office says". Located at http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/big-firms-including-news-corp-exxon-and-chevron-paid-no-tax-in-2016-tax-office-says-20171208-h01kxq.html 

Kaine, Sarah and Josserand, Emmanuel "Amazon's track record may signal a change in Australian industrial relations". Located at https://theconversation.com/amazons-track-record-may-signal-a-change-in-australian-industrial-relations-88146 

Partington, Richard "Gig economy workers in UK risk missing out on £22,000 of pension." Located at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/dec/07/gig-economy-workers-uk-missing-out-22200-status-workplace-pension

Butler, Sarah "Sports Direct and its staffing agencies paid workers £1m too little". Located at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/dec/08/sports-direct-and-its-staffing-agencies-paid-workers-1m-too-little

Kawase, Tomoshizu "Japan's taxman tightens scrutiny on wealthy". Located at https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/Economy/Japan-s-taxman-tightens-scrutiny-on-wealthy