Publication Date

2002

Abstract

Many international relief organizations, whose mission it is to serve the poor and improve human rights, actually continue the cycle of poverty and injustice in their workplaces for some of their local employees. Catholic Relief Services/Cameroon (CRS/CM) is no exception to this, as this paper presents the case that a just workplace and just wage should be an area of concern for CRS/CM and for CRS as an organization, particularly for its lowest paid local employees. In my research, I explore the quality of life, cost of living, and just workplace issues for the Cameroonian guards at CRS/CM, where I worked for a year as the Assistant Program Manager of the Peace and Justice program. The primary research question is: What impact does an unjust workplace have on the guards and what changes can be made in the management and operation of CRS/CM to make a more just workplace for this group? I used CRS's Just Workplace document and the principles of Catholic Social Teaching (CST) as guidelines and standards. Through a questionnaire, cost of living survey, focus group interviews, and individual interviews, the guards expressed and detailed areas of employment where they feel CRS/CM falls short of a just workplace and does not live out all the principles of CST, and how their lives are a daily struggle from lack of a living wage. Included in this analysis is how culture influences policies, expectations, standards, and reality for both the guards and CRS Management. Incorporating the suggestions of the guards, I created a set of recommendations that both CRS and other international humanitarian organizations could use to promote and monitor a more just workplace and increased living wage for its local staff in the field offices.

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