Pope Francis criticizes corporate abuses of workers, again

GENOA, Italy —Continuing his crusade for workers – and against corporate abuses – Pope Francis I told workers at a financially troubled steel plant in Genoa, Italy, that firing people just to increase profits is, in so many words, wrong.

And he had some sharp words for politicians who abet those firings, too. Francis’ May 25 visit to the ILVA plant featured a q-&-a with workers and others in the crowd, which included almost 3,500 hard-hatted steel plant workers.

Francis’ answers were in line with his prior denunciations of unbridled greed, corporate capitalism and the politicians who stand idly by as firms exploit workers and the poor. They also were in line with more than 125 years of pro-worker Catholic social teaching – lessons many Catholic corporate executives and politicians in the U.S. ignore, dismiss or flout.

Francis told the crowd that a corporate executive who tries to solve the firm’s problems by firing workers “is not a businessman, he is a commercialist. Today he sells his employees, tomorrow he sells his own dignity,” news reports, posted on the Vatican website, said.

“A sickness of the economy is the progressive transformation of workers into speculators, profiteers. Workers must absolutely not be confused with profiteers,” he warned.

“Profiteers eat people, leaving the economy abstract and without a face.”

And laws “intended to help the honest then end up penalizing the honest and profiting the corrupt.”

The best company owner, Francis added, is one who remembers that he or she is a worker, too, and works alongside the other employees. A “real entrepreneur shares the labors of workers and shares the joys of work.” By contrast, speculators “are not bothered when they fire employees in search of profits.”

Francis also warned workers they must be united. Disunity in the workplace is “an anthropological and Christian error and an economic error,” he said. “It forces people to work against each other” and destroys not just workers but companies, he noted.  And doing work well just because you get paid, the Pope says, degrades the dignity of work.

Increasing corporatization and mechanization threatens that dignity and jobs them-selves, he said. With so jobs being taken over by robots, machines or low-paid workers, he warned of “an ideology taking root everywhere that imagines a world where only half or maybe two-thirds of the workers will work and the others will be maintained by a social check.

“Without work for everyone, there will not be dignity for everyone.”

Source: PAI