Pope: Doomed Bangladesh Workers Were 'Slave Labor'

As thousands participate in May Day protests in Dhaka
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 1, 2013 7:11 AM CDT
Updated May 1, 2013 7:49 AM CDT
Pope: Doomed Bangladesh Workers Were 'Slave Labor'
Pope Francis arrives in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican to celebrate the holy mass and conferral of the sacrament of confirmation, Sunday, April 28, 2013.   (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Pope Francis has strong words on the Bangladesh factory collapse that killed at least 402 people: Workers in the doomed factory were living on just $50 a month, which he condemned as "slave labor" at a private mass this morning, the AP reports. The Telegraph has his full quote:

  • "That is what the people who died were being paid. This is called slave labor. Today in the world this slavery is being committed against something beautiful that God has given us—the capacity to create, to work, to have dignity. How many brothers and sisters find themselves in this situation! Not paying fairly, not giving a job because you are only looking at balance sheets, only looking at how to make a profit. That goes against God!"

Meanwhile, in Dhaka, thousands thronged in the streets for the annual May Day protests, a time for workers to air their grievances. Today saw protesters mourning the dead, beating drums, and calling for safe working conditions, better pay, and the death penalty for the owner of the collapsed building, who is currently under arrest. (The New York Times has an interesting piece on Mohammed Sohel Rana today, dubbing him "the most reviled man in Bangladesh" and charting his construction of the doomed Rana Plaza.) Workers are still searching the rubble and finding bodies, CNN reports, and it's not clear how many people are still missing. (More Bangladesh stories.)

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