The Orihuela government has been given a period of 20 days to meet all of the demands made by its waste disposal operators with regards to problems encountered at both the Polígono Puente Alto industrial estate on the outskirts of Orihuela and at their depot on the Orihuela Costa.
At a meeting held last Wednesday attended by 80% of the 140 strong workforce, employees gave a unanimous “yes” to start an indefinite strike at the end of a period of 20 days if the City of Orihuela does not meet with them and, they confirm in writing repairs and improvements to their unacceptable working conditions as well as the purchase of the new trucks that the council announced months ago. “We are tired of hot air, we want action,” said the union spokesmen of CCOO, UGT and CSI-F.
Workers have been denouncing the deficiencies suffered at the two depots for several years, and the deplorable conditions of the facilities in which they are forced to work. In recent months the very same demands have been made personally to the responsible councillor, Dámaso Aparicio, to the head of Human Resources, Rafael Almagro and to the mayor, Emilio Bascuñana.
They have each been told of the difficulties that the cleaning workers have to deal with, including vehicles that are in poor condition and continuously break down, the fact that there are more collection routes than the workforce can cope with and vehicles that cannot rest.
They have complained about a lack of suitable clothing, as well as safety masks and gloves and that at the point of unloading the vehicles there is a lack of sweepers meaning that operators have to deal with the spills by hand.
Special mention is made of the situation in the two depots. In the Polígono Puente Alto in Orihuela, there are no toilets, nor is there water or electricity. In the case of the Orihuela Costa compound, the workers are confined in two temporary huts, neither of which have electricity. Deposits from the two latrines are disposed of just three meters from the entrance of the depot, so the urine they have to drive through a pool of urine every time they enter or leave the unit.
The union representatives have once again demanded an urgent meeting with the mayor “to solve and remedy the problems that we have with our working conditions. We do not ask for money, but labour improvements to which we are entitled as basic human rights.”
They say that if there is no answer within 20 days, they will request that their operators call an indefinite strike that will not end until they see in writing a solution to their demands.