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As the ten year long contract for waste collection, and street cleaning in the city of Torrevieja expired last week, the town hall still seem no closer to resolving the matter in either the immediate or long term future, resulting in warnings over the likelihood of poor service and dirty streets throughout the summer this year.

The contract was first issued in 2004, when the annual fee was 9.7 million euro, but as recent reports have shown, it was later to be adjusted upwards to reach 15 million euro, and then a staggering 15,436,002 euro per year, which, when IVA and other adjustments are applied, resulted in a total cost of 16.3 million euro. In fact, this contract resulted in the former mayor, Pedro Ángel Hernández Mateo of the PP, being sentenced to three years in prison for committing falsehood and prevarication, although he is yet to serve his time.

Auditors, inspectors and even the staff had all raised concerns about the working practices and the contract terms, but despite the length of time the contract has been in place, the town hall have still failed to find an alternative, or even offer the service to tender.

Now, as the contract has expired, the UGT union, which represents the workers of the company Acciona, have issued a statement which paints a bleak view of what the residents can expect as the city becomes even busier through the summer months as it tries to attract tourism and investors from around both Spain and the rest of the world.

As previously reported, many of the vehicles used are long beyond their expected working life, with many suffering daily breakdowns. The facilities used by staff are far from adequate, with insufficient personal hygiene facilities and showers. Now, the union claims that staffing levels throughout the summer, rather than being increased as they are in other areas, are in fact being cut back to levels similar to that of 2005, with many workers now only on part-time contracts. The net result, warns the union, means less cleaning and dirtier streets.

The workers have been trying to gain reassurance from the mayor of the city, Eduardo Dolón, even resorting to protests in the streets, in fear of their own future employment. The unions are now calling for the mayor to honour his commitment not to separate the two contracts of street cleaning and waste collection, and, primarily, to set about resolving the contract and tender to ensure that the workers have some security in their jobs, and that the service to the citizens is maintained.

The union feels that given the expiry of the contract had been anticipated for many years, there has been sufficient time already to resolve these matters, and so, the specifications of new contracts must be completed “as soon as possible”.

Meanwhile, the Los Verdes green party, who have questioned a number of irregularities in the working hours and the contract, supports the municipalisation of the service, as has been the case in Orihuela, in order to provide a satisfactory solution to this contract, not destroying any job and improving the quality of service provided.

Filed under: http://www.theleader.info/article/44036/

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