Catalan Catholic Workers’ Pastorates have deplored the “merciless capitalism” behind car factory closures in the region and the associated loss of 4,000 jobs.
– “Outrage” at Nissan profit “at any cost”
Japanese carmaker Nissan announced last week that it would stop production in December in the Catalonia region, in Spain’s north-east: a decision which the Catalan Interdiocesan Secretariat of Workers’ Pastorates alerted in a May 30 statement “leaves 4,000 direct men and women workers on the streets and seriously affects 21,000 other indirect workers”.
Along with other Catholic organisations and movements such as the Spanish Catholic Action Worker’s Fraternity (HOAC), the Workers’ Pastorates gave voice to their “outrage and rejection at this closure, which is the result of the speculation and manipulation of these multinational companies who are promoting this merciless capitalism with the sole aim of their profit and benefit at any cost, without taking into account the social good or the workers and their families”.
The Catholic Workers also took aim at the Spanish national and Catalan regional governments after Nissan’s announcement of the closure, blasting politicians for their “weakness” and for not fighting “as hard as necessary alongside workers to find an alternative to this aggression of capital in the world of work in our country”.
Calling on Catholics around the country to show their financial solidarity with the newly-redundant Nissan employees, the Catholic Workers made their own words Pope Francis pronounced in his homily at the Santa Marta Mass on May 1 – International Workers’ Day – this year:
“Every injustice done to a person that works is to trample human dignity, also the dignity of the one who does the injustice: the level is lowered and ends in that dictator-slave tension. Instead, the vocation God gives us is so beautiful: to create, to recreate, to work. However, this can be done when the conditions are just and the person’s dignity is respected”.
– Former worker: “We accepted the sacrifices they asked of us and they paid us back with thirty silver pieces”
As a show of the “pain, suffering, frustration and outrage” of the affected workers “at their treatment at the hands of managers and shareholders”, the Catalan Catholic Workers shared the testimony of now-former Nissan employee Jorge Pérez.
In an emotional text, Pérez wrote on behalf of his fellow workers that “our souls were crushed” when the carmaker, “after blackmailing us for months, announced our redundancy”.
“After so many years of us working so hard and of them freezing our salaries, cutting our rights and laying off workers, today they are paying us back with a betrayal”, Pérez denounced.
The practising Catholic lamented how “I have been watching how, little by little, my colleagues’ faces have been changing, from hope to pain and later to anger”.
“We always believed their lies: we accepted the sacrifices they asked of us and they paid us back with thirty silver pieces”, Pérez fumed.
“With a cold look, like that of an executioner, they didn’t even blink: they didn’t even think about the 25,000 families involved; they only cared about their profits”, he added.
“How heavy is my cross!”, Pérez continued, recalling that Jesus invited men and women to take up their cross too and to follow him, “not to be afraid of life and lie down to wait it out”.
“When we fall, we get up, ask for forgiveness and correct our course”, the former Nissan worker wrote.
Pérez concluded with a moving reflection on the place of faith and action in the life of the Christian worker:
“Lord, I want what you want: I take up my cross and follow you… how sweet that is.
“For us Christian workers, life is not about sitting back and waiting for God to solve the problem with miracles, but about us doing that ourselves… by fighting”.