Speaking to faithful during an a private mass, Pope Francis condemned the working conditions for those killed and injured in a factory collapse in Bangladesh, telling his audience he was moved by a headline that said the workers were paid only 38 Euros (about $50 Canadian) a month.
According to The Associated Press, the Pope said:
“That [38 Euros] is what the people who died were being paid. This is called slave labour,” he said. “Today in the world this slavery is being committed against something beautiful that God has given us – the capacity to create, to work, to have dignity. How many brothers and sisters find themselves in this situation!
“Not paying fairly, not giving a job because you are only looking at balance sheets, only looking at how to make a profit. That goes against God!
“There are many people who want to work but cannot. When a society is organised in a way that not everyone is given the chance to work, that society is not just.”
The Pope made more general comments about social justice and labour to a public audience in St. Peter’s Square Wednesday, where he called on politicians to help people get back to work.
“Work is fundamental for dignity,” he said, reports AFP. “I think of labor market difficulties in various countries. I think of people, not just young people, who are unemployed often because of an economic conception of society based on selfish profit outside the bounds of social justice.”
The Pope’s comments correspond with May Day, which is traditionally a workers’ day of protest in Asian countries. In Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, workers marched in the streets to demand safer working conditions in the wake of the April 24 garment factory collapse that has now killed more than 400 people.
An additional 2,500 were injured when the factory collapsed and at least 149 people are still missing, reports BBC News.