VATICAN CITY, Holy See, Mar 15 – Closing factories and cutting jobs can constitute a “very serious sin”, Pope Francis said Wednesday in his latest broadside in defence of labour rights.
His comment was made in support of staff at the Italian branch of Sky television who are currently involved in a dispute over 200 redundancies and 300 relocations.
“I spare a special thought to the staff of Sky Italia and I hope that a rapid solution is found that respects the rights of everyone, especially families,” Francis said at the end of his midweek audience in St Peter’s square.
“Work gives us dignity and lawmakers, the representatives of the people, have a duty to do everything so that every man and woman can hold their heads high and look others in the eye, with dignity,” he added.
“Anyone who, through economic manoeuvring or by negotiating deals that are not clear, closes factories or companies and takes people’s jobs away is committing a very serious sin.”
It was not the first time that Francis has intervened in an Italian labour dispute.
In September 2014 he attacked German steel group ThyssenKrupp’s plans to reduce staff numbers at a loss-making Italian plant.
The Argentine pontiff is a regular critic of capitalism.
In the first major missive of his papacy he denounced growing inequality and the “idolatory of money” while last year he described the globalised economic system as “structurally perverse.”
Such observations have led to him being branded the “Marxist” pope in some quarters.
But he has denied any sympathy for communist ideas, joking once that the Marxists had stolen all their best lines from the bible.