Worse than a crisis like the one we are experiencing, there is only the drama of wasting it. The virus, like a scourge, has affected everyone without distinction. Its effects, however, have spread in different ways, with especially serious consequences for some.
Many jobs have been lost, opportunities for decent employment have decreased, workers with less security and less social protection have suffered and are suffering more than others.
Moreover, the priority is clear: to restart by focusing on the workers who are on the margins - a broad and heterogeneous category - because society cannot “progress by discarding”.
Pope Francis identifies several directions for the future. The first is that work is not simply employment, and it is not just formal employment. You can be a worker, without being an employee with a regular contract. This implies a new way of thinking about safeguards, in particular for that informal work which represents 70% of employment in some areas of the world, but is also very present in the most advanced societies.
The second direction for the future, highlighted by the pandemic, is to take the issue of care seriously. Work and care are two fundamental dimensions of the human being: both give dignity to our life on this earth. Yet, while work is valued, even socially, care is invisible, forgotten, underestimated.
This theme was discussed in a conference organized by the Vatican Commission on Covid-19 and the Loyola University of Chicago: A better way to work: Pope Francis, the Care Economy, and the Future of Work. It emerged that the way to go is to consider the issue of care as a commitment of the entire community, and not of individuals, or individual families.
The proposal, put forward by the Canadian philosopher Jennifer Nedelski, is to make care activities an integral part of working hours for everyone. No one should work more than 30 hours a week and no one should spend less than 22 hours a week on caring activities, inside and outside the family.
Only if we are able to socially and legally enhance care can we ensure that it becomes an essential dimension of every job, because "work that does not take care,” said the Pope, “that destroys Creation, that endangers the survival of future generations, does not respect the dignity of workers and cannot be considered decent."
Sr Alessandra Smerilli, FMA,
Source: L’Osservatore Romano