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Pope: closing firms without protecting workers is a grave sin

Sky Italia placard at the Audience

Sky Italia placard at the Audience

Source: Vatican Radio/InBlu

Pope Francis said on Wednesday that it is a "very grave sin" to fire employees "as a result of economic operations and unclear negotiations."

Speaking at the end of his General Audience which was attended by a group of employees from the TV network Sky Italia, who could be facing redundancy as the company undergoes change and downsizing, Pope Francis expressed his hope for a rapid solution that "takes into account the respect for the rights of all, especially for families."

"Work gives dignity. He who shuts factories and closes companies as a result of economic operations and unclear negotiations, depriving men and women from work, commits a very grave sin" he said.

In recent years, Italy has seen many companies and factories close as production is moved abroad to take advantage of lower labour costs or as a result of restructuring and mergers.

Sky Italia has been hit by strikes by employees opposed to its plan to move most of its operations to Milan from Rome, which unions say could lead to hundreds of job cuts and forced transfers.

In January 2014 Pope Francis spoke about Catholic Social Teaching on employment. In an address to the Rome Roundtable which brought together participants and observers from the business and investment community, religious leaders, civic institutions, academia and civil society, Pope Francis said: "A world economic system that discards men, women and children because they are no longer considered useful or productive according to criteria drawn from the world of business or other organisations, is unacceptable, because it is inhumane. This lack of concern for persons is a sign of regression and dehumanization in any political or economic system."

The Holy Father called on participants to study and to learn from the Church's social doctrine. "Draw constant inspiration from the Church's social teaching," he said, "as you continue your efforts to promote a cooperative globalization, working with civil society, governments, international bodies, academic and scientific communities, and all other interested parties."