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Rome Reports

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Trade unionists after Vatican congress: In the world there is too much unstable work

It worries Pope Francis that there are people who die due to poor labor conditions, as he denounced in Prato, Italy

“It's the tragedy of work exploitation and of living under inhumane conditions. It's not work that gives dignity.”

The pope is also worried about other slavery, though – that of those who are well-paid but don't have time to rest

“A paradox of our society is that a growing number of people would like to work and fail, and others that work too much, and would like to work less, but don't succeed because they were 'bought' by their companies.”

Pope Francis summoned trade unions from around the world to Rome for that reason. He gave them a letter with three pieces of advice: look for the common good and not private interests; promote a united lifestyle; and beware of corruption. 

The conference reflected on statistics like this one – 44 percent of work worldwide is unofficial. 

Spanish Episcopal Conference Workers' Pastoral

“It means work without rights, without health insurance, without pension, without any stability. The situation is very grave.”

United Food & Commercial Workers Union

“There were 13 recommendations that came out of this gathering. Each and every one of them is incredibly significant. The over-arching framework of the conclusions is that workers have the right to what they call 'three Ts' – tierra, techo y trabajo (land, housing and work).”

The pope asked the trade unions to fight for a work world that cares for the integral development of people, not only their economic situation. 

His message says the economic system, which focuses on efficiency and not on people, needs to change. Pope Francis also reminded that a world only concerned with economic benefit damages the environment

At the convention, Paul VI's Populorum Progressio encyclical, published in 1967, was very present. It was an encyclical in which the pontificate reflected on the development of people in the new social and economic landscape of the 20th century.