Pope Francis calls for universal basic wage in post-coronavirus world

Universal basic income would ensure ‘no worker without rights’, pope says

Pope Francis has called on international governments to consider introducing a universal basic wage in the post-pandemic world. It "would ensure and concretely achieve the ideal, at once so human and so Christian, of no worker without rights", he said.

“Street vendors, recyclers, carnival workers, small farmers, construction workers, seamstresses, the different kinds of caregivers: you who are informal, working on your own or in the grassroots economy, you have no steady income to get you through this hard time . . . and the lockdowns are becoming unbearable. This may be the time to consider a universal basic wage which would acknowledge and dignify the noble, essential tasks you carry out,” he said.

In a letter addressed to popular movements around the world, he expressed solidarity with their aim of bringing change to global systems and structures that exclude the majority. “Now more than ever, persons, communities and peoples must be put at the centre, united to heal, to care and to share,” he said.

People needed to reflect on life after the pandemic, he said. “Its grave consequences are already being felt. This calls for an integral human development that is based on the central role and initiative of the people in all their diversity, as well as on universal access” to work, housing, land and food.

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He expressed the hope “that our sleepy consciences will be shaken, giving way to a humanist and ecological conversion that puts an end to the idolatry of money and places human life and dignity at the centre”.

“Our civilisation – so competitive, so individualistic, with its frenetic rhythms of production and consumption, its extravagant luxuries, its disproportionate profits for just a few – needs to downshift, take stock and renew itself,” said the pope.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is Religious Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times