Vatican Museums under fire from workers alleging poor treatment

Vatican Museums under fire from workers alleging poor treatment

Nearly 50 employees of the Vatican Museums have initiated a labour dispute with the Holy See over what they allege are poor, unfair and unsafe working conditions, which could result in a class action lawsuit against Pope Francis’s administration.

First reported by Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, the complaint has been lodged by 49 out of roughly 700 employees of the Vatican Museums – 47 custodians, an art restorer, and a bookshop employee – represented by Italian lawyer Laura Sgrò, who handles several other high-profile cases involving the Holy See.

In a petition sent to Cardinal Fernando Vèrgez Alzaga, president of the Government of the Vatican City State, Ms Sgrò claimed that current rules cause “labour conditions undermining each workers’ health and dignity”. “The poor management is evident, which would be even more serious if it were the result of the sole logic of obtaining greater profits,” she said.

According to Ms Sgrò’s letter, “the employer abuses this tool”. There are also complaints about no distinction being made for employees who have seniority, and that workers “are the absolute asset of the manager, who uses them as he pleases. Absolute discrimination reigns, a perpetual state of chaos”. Workers claim they have also at times been penalised for taking time off to care for sick family members.

“The Pope talks about rights, we are considered simple commodities,” they said.