It's a grave sin to lay people off carelessly, says Pope Francis

(Image from The Economist)How The Economist of April 19-25 depicts Pope Francis after his first year as pontiff.

Employers are obliged to protect peoples' dignity, and those who lay off employees solely for economic gain commit a serious sin, Pope Francis has told employees of a TV platform in Italy.

Francis said, "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."

The Pope was speaking to a group of employees of the Italian branch of the TV platform Sky on the firing of employees, Catholic News Agency reported.

"Work gives dignity, and managers are obliged to do all possible so that every man and woman can work and so carry their heads high and look others in the eye with dignity," said Francis.

The Pope made the remarks at the end of his weekly General Audience on March 15.

Sky Italy is a platform for digital satellite television, partly owned by 21st Century Fox, it is also a major sports' broadcaster for sports.

Sky has recently announced plans to downsize and move 300 employees and their families from the capital in Rome to the Italian commercial center of Milan in the north of the country.

The pontiff expressed his hope for a rapid solution that "takes into account the respect for the rights of all, especially for families."

Since he became the leader of 1.2 billion Catholics four years ago, Francis has strongly defended the rights of workers, Reuters news agency reported.

As in other countries throughout the world, Italy has seen companies and factories close as production has moved abroad to take advantage of lower labour costs or as a result of restructuring and mergers.

Sky Italia is owned by the Rupert Murdoch-controlled British pay TV operator Sky and its employees who 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 have recently been on strike.

Murdoch was born in Australia, but is now an America citizen.

In another case that has dominated Italian newspapers, up to 2000 people may lose their jobs in restructuring at loss-making airline Alitalia, whose failure to fend off low-cost competition is widely blamed on decades of poor management.

Exacerbating the threat of job losses in these and other cases is the fear of long-term unemployment for those affected.

Italy's jobless rate stands at about 12 per cent and its youth unemployment is close to 40 per cent, Reuters reported.

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