On a May Day tinged by the coronavirus pandemic, the Spanish and Italian Churches have deplored the “virus” of the “indecent” job insecurity suffered by many in their respective countries.
In the case of Spain, the entities promoting the Church for Decent Work (ITD) initiative wrote a manifesto for May 1, also the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, in which they denounced problematic aspects of the present employment situation in Spain and set out a series of demands to policymakers.
As inherent to the human condition, employment “must guarantee working conditions that protect the physical and mental integrity of the person, and promote the social protection that is essential for a dignified life”, the ITD recalled.
On the coronavirus, the group continued, “we have no doubt that the labour and economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic would have had less impact without the indecent job insecurity – that ‘virus’ which characterises the labour relations system and which damages the rights of working people and their families – and if the public health and social welfare systems had had the resources they need but which were cut as a consequence of the previous financial crisis”, the ITD collective denounced in their manifesto.
– A plea for a guaranteed minimum income
The ITD’s demands for this May Day included improvements to the quality of employment in Spain, the reduction of the unemployment level, measures to tackle the poverty even workers experience, remedies to the lack of social protection networks, increases to wages, the reversal of less than optimal conditions of occupational health and safety, policies to increase gender equality in the workplace and the guarantee of rest for workers.
The ITD also demanded the implantation of a guaranteed minimum income scheme in Spain as well as “the extraordinary and urgent regularisation of workers without papers and left out of citizenship rights”.
All these issues “shape the concept of decent work, and are a concern and a priority of the Church, in the words of Pope Francis”, the Spanish Church organisations warned in their manifesto.
In this year of the ‘great lockdown’, the ITD initiative also incorporated into its manifesto “a reality that is often silenced” – that of “the undervalued labour of workers who, despite their weak and precarious working conditions, are essential for the care of life” – as well as “a series of claims to respond to this socioeconomic crisis” caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
– Italian Bishops: “Loyalty to God’s plan for humanity is at stake”
The Italian Episcopal Conference, for its part, published a message entitled “Work in a sustainable economy”.
In it, members of the Italian episcopate stressed that the emergency that has followed the spread of COVID-19 “teaches us that the events of existence sometimes suddenly deal us an unexpected hand, revealing our most fragile reality”.
The coronavirus crisis “has made us understand how important solidarity, interdependence and the ability to work together are so as to be stronger in the face of risk and adversity”.
In the face of the economic and social crisis hitting Italy, the bishops maintained that building a different, sustainable economy “is not only possible, but is the only way to save ourselves and live up to our task in the world”.
“Loyalty to God’s plan for humanity is at stake”, the Italian Bishops warned.
(With reporting by ZENIT)