People have become slaves to making ends meet during the tough financial times in Northern Ireland, the new Dean of Belfast has said.
Two employees are trying to do the work of five while bosses are doing paperwork to save administrative costs, with those staff made redundant left seeking work in a crowded jobs market, said the Church of Ireland's the Rev John Mann.
He was speaking at his service of installation at St Anne's Cathedral, Belfast.
"Slavery has long been abolished in our society, though of course not in other parts of the world, but we are in no doubt that even here economic pressures have brought many people to a personal, financial and family situation where they, with the same expectations from others, have become a slave to their own circumstances," he said.
He added that professional men and women were being trained in such numbers that there may be jobs for only a quarter of them at the end of their course. The clergyman added that young people were running empty bank accounts and that churches and the charitable sector were equally affected by the squeeze.
"Let us be honest and say, none of us have been entirely free from unavoidably making life more difficult for others than it should be, just living in the rich western world is enough to ensure that we are," he warned.
"So much more then should we be conscious of the need to open doors where we can and work to relieve the needs of others.
"All of us can do this. Often it is those with very little who are the first to help those with even less."
He said people from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka were among the first to aid the Japanese following the earthquake and tsunami.
Last year five board members at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast resigned over the Church of Ireland's decision to drop the post of director of music.