Tuesday, August 16

Aigües de Barcelona: Employees of a treatment plant in Barcelona confine themselves in the parking lot to avoid contagion of covid | Economy

The motorhomes in which the workers of the Besòs treatment plant in Barcelona are confined.
The motorhomes in which the workers of the Besòs treatment plant in Barcelona are confined.CRISTÓBAL CASTRO

The unleashed increase in infections by the omicron variant has left the workforce of many companies in the box. Contagions, casualties and close contacts have forced companies to organize themselves as best they can, especially in functions where teleworking is not an option. This is the case of the Besòs Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP Besòs), one of the plants of the Aigües de Barcelona company, which cannot stop working if the water cycle in the city is to be guaranteed. As they already did at the beginning of the pandemic, in 2020, a group of workers has confined themselves to the parking lot of the treatment plant and live in motorhomes so as not to get infected and to be able to continue working. There are 14 employees in six vehicles, who work in two shifts. Adherence to this measure has been voluntary, and the company, which bears the costs of accommodating its workers, compensates them with a supplement of 1,000 euros per week, according to sources close to it.

Felipe Campos, the CEO of Aigües de Barcelona, ​​whose main shareholder is Agbar, thanked the employees on Wednesday for the effort to keep the treatment plant active. “Commitment, solidarity and generosity is what our workers show every day. They have done it again. Many thanks to those who have self-contained in the Besòs WWTP to guarantee the essential service of the integral water cycle. You are an example for us, ”Campos said on social media. In a statement, the company highlighted that the operation of the treatment plant ensures that water continues to reach almost three million inhabitants of the metropolitan area of ​​Barcelona, ​​and that the confinement of these workers in the workplace ensures safety and health of employees.

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The system is the same as that carried out at the beginning of the pandemic. The 14 self-contained workers have been living in the motorhomes since last January 4. They will be there for two weeks, and if the epidemiological situation does not improve and the incidence of infections in the workforce remains high, they will be relieved by another team. The company has installed the motorhomes, has a catering service for the workers and “guarantees all the means and services they may need during their stay at the plant,” the statement said. This measure is combined with the monitoring of a security protocol through periodic antigen tests, the use of masks and personal protective equipment and the disinfection of motorhomes. Last year, the company carried out 7,000 tests on its professionals.

“This station always has to be open, and the level of casualties was being very high, to the point that we suffered if we were left without the reserve team that always has to be ready. That is why a confinement like the one that was done in 2020 was agreed to, to prevent further infections, ”explains Carlos Cruz, general secretary of the UGT in Aigües de Barcelona. The unionist emphasizes that self-confinement is voluntary, and that the conditions for economic compensation have been agreed since 2020. “The volunteers leave, because they are well paid, and because they are responsible for having to carry out their task,” he highlights. “But it’s hard, they leave there quite tired, because many days are practically alone,” he adds.

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The supplement is about 1,000 euros net for the self-contained worker, according to close sources. The company does not confirm this amount, and considers that “the focus has to be guaranteeing the water service.” Demand to enter this self-confinement program was higher than needed, sources say.

Isabel Rodríguez, general secretary of CC OO in the company, explains that given the increase in infections, the company had already anticipated the need before Christmas, and had made a “stockpile” of motorhomes for the different treatment plants, Besòs, Sant Joan Despí and El Prat, but in the end they have only been necessary to protect the Besòs squad, since that is where contagions increased. Normally about 50 people work at the Besòs WWTP. “Now there are 14 who are working two shifts a day. In 2020 it did come very again, but people were very happy with the experience, since there is catering, mobile phones and laptops are given to talk with family members. They make pineapple between them. For many it was an enriching experience, for others it was heavier ”, he highlights. The union member explains that membership has been completely voluntary, and that when it was decided the possibility that there were no volunteers was not considered, since “they were clear that the water workers would look to provide the service.”

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