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Lay Employees to Donate Part of Salaries to Pope

February 24, 1988

VATICAN CITY (AP) _ A union representing Vatican lay employees on Wednesday announced a unique way to call attention to their salary complaints: donating part of their pay to Pope John Paul II to help feed the poor.

The Association of Lay Vatican Workers, which represents about 1,500 employees, said workers next Monday would stage an ″active strike″ for three hours at the start of each shift to protest plans to change their pay schedule.

The workers will do their jobs but will donate their first three hours’ pay ″directly to the Holy Father as our contribution toward his work and in favor of those suffering from hunger in the world,″ a union statement said.

″This is clearly a new type of protest,″ said union president Mariano Cerullo. ″We felt we had to send a clear message, and the best way was to send it directly to the pope.″

For years the Vatican employees have complained about their salaries, which Cerullo said range from $927 to $1,370 a month. They are exempt from Italian taxes, work a 36-hour week and have one month of vacation and 26 paid holidays.

The labor action was called to protest the Vatican’s plan to pay workers at the end of each month, like most employees in Italy. Until now, most Vitan workers have been getting their paychecks on the first day of the month.

The union said the change will cause hardship to the families of the Vatican employees. Vatican officials have said the change is primarily to facilitate administrative matters.

The change also would affect about 1,000 religious employees of the Vatican.

The lay employees work at the Vatican museums, post office, main library, the daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano and Vatican Radio and many offices.

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