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Wednesday, 6 November, 2002, 09:26 GMT
Vicar fights for clergy's rights
The Department of Trade and Industry
The meeting will include a multi-faith congregation
A vicar who is fighting for better employment rights for clergymen is taking his case to the Department of Trade and Industry on Wednesday.

The Reverend Ray Owen says he cannot fight to get his job back because in the UK he is deemed to be "employed by God", and is an office holder rather than employee.

The former Church of England team rector in Hanley, Stoke on Trent, claims he was dismissed from his post in 1999 with no right to take his case to an industrial tribunal.

But the diocese said Mr Owen was merely moved on after his fixed-term contract expired and he refused to take any of the alternative jobs proposed to him.

Better standards

Mr Owen is arguing his case for better employment rights for ministers of religion at a meeting with Department of Trade and Industry officials.

The meeting will include a multi-faith congregation of clergymen and women and the representatives from the union Amicus, which is leading the campaign for better standards of employment protection for clergymen.

Reverend Ray Owen
Mr Owen claims he was dismissed in 1999

The 64-year-old vicar is due to take his case to the European Parliament on Thursday.

Euro MEPs started an inquiry into the UK law, which denies clergymen the same employment rights as other workers, after the 64-year-old vicar raised the issue.

Protection

Mr Owen told the BBC that the situation in the Church of England was changing.

"Vicars being given freehold livings is becoming more rare, often clergy are put there at the whim of the bishop for a number of years," he said.

He said it dated back to a piece of legislation in 1911 which stated that clergymen were office holders and not employees.

"More and more people are beginning to realise that clergy do a professional job of work and they need the protection that everybody else needs," he said.


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24 Jan 02 | England
09 Nov 01 | Business
14 Nov 00 | UK
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