Vatican Museum staff start legal action over labour conditions

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Forty-nine Vatican Museums employees have started an unprecedented labour dispute over what they say are unfair and poor conditions at their workplace, which could lead to an embarrassing lawsuit against Pope Francis‘ administration.

The workers, mostly museum attendants, have sent a petition to the Vatican’s “Governatorato”, the body that administers the Vatican City State, lamenting rules that cause “labour conditions that violate their dignity”, said lawyer Laura Sgro, who is representing them on Monday.

They include extra work hours paid at lower rates and insufficient health and safety provisions, Sgro said.

The 49 workers, out of a total of around 700 people employed at the Vatican Museums, are all Italian citizens and have been employed at the Vatican for many years. Unions are not allowed in Vatican City.

A spokesman for the Vatican Museums declined to comment.

One of the most visited museums in the world, along with Paris’ Louvre and London’s British Museum, the Vatican Museums have a priceless art collection and include the renowned Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel.

The petition represents the first formal step in a mandatory conciliation process under Vatican law.

If the conciliation procedure fails, the case can then be brought to a Vatican Court.