Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican's permanent observer to U.N. agencies based in Geneva CNS photo/Paul Haring

Economic recovery must focus on jobs, protecting workers, says Vatican official

By  Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service
  • June 7, 2012

VATICAN CITY - Economic recovery needs to focus on job creation, especially for young adults, and protecting workers, a Vatican official said.

"The path forward to an effective recovery presupposes a new vision and strategic investments to provide employment and to sustain enterprises," said Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican's permanent observer to U.N. agencies based in Geneva.

The archbishop made his comments June 7 during the May 30-June 14 International Labor Conference in Geneva. His office distributed the text of his speech the same day.

"A quick recovery doesn't seem realistic," he said referring to the continued lack of full-time, part-time and secure employment in the wake of the global economic crisis.

New economic paradigms need to focus on "true development" that centers on the human person and protects his or her dignity and rights, he said.

"Development needs to be employment-oriented," especially in regard to young people who bear the heaviest burden from unemployment, underemployment or a lack of job stability, he said.

Poverty, crime, substance abuse, social instability, increased welfare costs and loss of tax revenues are just some of the consequences of large unemployment rates for youth, he said.

Too many young workers end up getting paid under the table and those who have legal employment often face job insecurity and "the constant pressure of subcontracting, which brings lower wages and lack of protection in the area of social security, preventing many from leading a decent life," said Archbishop Tomasi.

Increased mobility of workers and "endemic" deregulation also can create "great psychological and spiritual suffering," he said, making it hard for young people to make "coherent life plans, including marriage."

An ethical and human-centered solution to the economic crisis also includes social protections, since all people have a right "to social security and to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of themselves and their family," he said.

Workers need to have healthy and safe working conditions, wage protection and decent working hours that also take into account "national circumstances," he said.

Outsourcing products and services to low-wage countries has "led to a downsizing of social security systems as the price to be paid for greater competitive advantage in the global market, with consequent grave danger for the rights of workers, for fundamental human rights and for the solidarity associated with the traditional forms of the social state," he said.

Cuts in social spending can leave citizens powerless, a situation which is then worsened when trade and workers' unions are undermined by governments seeking to "limit the freedom or the negotiating capacity of labor unions."

Traditional methods of solidarity and social protection have many obstacles to overcome, he said, adding that any reform and redesign of social protection programs must give "adequate importance" to the family.

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