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The right to work


ImageLa Pira held that in social terms, the right to work was one of the basic rights of citizenship enshrined in the Constitution and a cornerstone of the civil community. In economic terms (according to Keynesian theory) it was the pivot on which a healthy stimulus to productivity hinged (mass unemployment triggers a monetary circulation with no corresponding production and this, when prolonged, causes inflation, he wrote in “La difesa della povera gente [In defence of poor people]”).

In moral and religious terms, however, it is a categorical imperative (If I am a man of the State my rejection of unemployment and of neediness must imply this: -my economic policies must strive towards blue-collar employment and the eradication of poverty: this is clear! No specious objection emerging from any so-called “laws of economics” can detract me from striving towards this objective).

His response to De Gasperi who accused him of playing the communists’ game by siding with the workers was: “The communists’ game is played by all those – businessmen and politicians – who by denying the sanctity and absolute necessity of daily bread (won by work) throw the weak into despair and complete lack of confidence”.

La Pira often found himself up against formidable obstacles in order to defend these rights (see also Social justice)

The Pignone case is still emblematic