Refuse collection in the city is carried out by three franchise firms through their 1,600 or so employees, but changes in their labour agreement – which have to be signed off by unions – appear to threaten their job security.
Loading wheelie-bins into refuse lorries has always been a three-person job, but the firms now only want one person to do it – and, as this affects every neighbourhood in Madrid, it could mean up to two-thirds of employees would become surplus to requirements.
Other changes mean their general working conditions would become less favourable, and there is no mention of pay rises – at least, not of sufficient salary increases to reflect living costs and the type of work carried out.
Madrid city council has attempted to intervene in the labour dispute, where staff are represented by the General Workers’ Union (UGT), the Labourers’ Commissions (CCOO) and the CGT, but as yet, to no avail.
The contracts for the rubbish removal franchises were signed when former mayoress Ana Botella (PP) was in power with three different corporations – Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas; the joint-venture company UTRM2, comprising the firms OHL, Valoriza, Ascan and Acciona, and a second umbrella company made up of the firms Ferrovial and Urbaser.