At least 14 cleaners in Madrid suffered from dizziness only at the weekend, according to data provided to EL PAÍS on Tuesday by the UGT union. They have no records, yes, of heat strokes like those suffered by street sweeper José Manuel González, 60, who died cleaning in Puente de Vallecas on Friday. González suddenly collapsed on one of the neighborhood streets at five o’clock in the afternoon. His body temperature was 41.6 degrees when emergency services arrived. Hours later he died. According to the state weather agency, Friday was the warmest day in Madrid for at least 102 years.
A spokeswoman for the UGT union confirmed over the phone that of the 14 workers who suffered from dizziness over the weekend, several also had “vomiting and decomposition”, but without loss of consciousness. Some were garbage truck drivers. The management of the capital’s street cleaning service will be awarded in six lots distributed among the 21 districts of Madrid.
The 14 cleaners physically affected by the heat are distributed geographically as follows: Lot number one, which includes Centro, Tetuán and Chamberí, had two sweepers; in lot two a worker sweeping the Retiro area; in lot three, distributed by Fuencarral-El Pardo, Moncloa-Aravaca and Latina, two cleaners; in lot four, covering the areas of Hortaleza, Barajas, Ciudad Lineal and San Blas, four workers; in lot five, distributed by Puente de Vallecas, Moratalaz, Villa de Vallecas and Vicálvaro, two more and finally in lot number six, which brings together the Usera, Villaverde and Carabanchel areas, three more street sweepers.
González, who died Friday, was working on lot five. He was 60 years old and had a one-month temporary contract. On Friday he had switched shifts to a colleague. His son Miguel, 21, called in EL PAÍS on Monday for the conditions of all street sweepers in the capital to be improved. “I think it’s immoral to work in 42 degrees with no shade and these clothes. It mustn’t happen. We all know this can be avoided, but until something like this happens, they don’t realize it […] I know he was aware that this could happen to him, but he did it because he wanted to get a long contract. I’m convinced he didn’t stop cleaning the streets until he passed out. I would think they wouldn’t renew him and he gave everything to prove he was worth it. That is inhuman to me and should make us all think. They are not conditions. And my father lived through that.”
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A meeting between the unions and the winning companies is scheduled for this Tuesday at 12 noon to try and improve conditions. Urbaser, where the street sweeper who died on Friday worked, did not want to comment on this newspaper.
the new contract
Since November 1st, cleaning the city’s more than 9,000 streets and almost 3,800 green spaces has been the responsibility of the Mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez-Almeida. The capital has said goodbye to the controversial deals signed by the popular Ana Botella in 2013. The Excaldesa made an armored cleaning deal that divided the city into six blocks with main and secondary streets. The chaos was so great that a street like Velázquez in the Salamanca district was not considered a main street; while in neighborhoods like Lavapiés or Malasaña only the streets of Argumosa, Fuencarral and San Bernardo have been given priority. The contracts were awarded to four major companies in the sector: Cespa, Valoriza, Obrascón and OHL-FCC.
The city council will now invest 1,636 million euros in cleaning – 32% of the annual budget, that’s always around 5,000 million – in a project that will last until 2027, and 435 million for more green spaces, which will last until 2025. The lower case letter settles however, continued in the workers deployed on the streets. With this new contract, the workforce will increase by 2,000 employees; That means they will increase to 5,904 from the current 3,904, as confirmed by the environmental sector. Despite this increase, the city still won’t get back the street sweepers it had a decade ago, 6,315. This would require another 411 more contracts.
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