The company Servicios Sociosanitarios Generales, a concessionaire of the scheduled public service (not urgent) of ambulances in the Balearic Islands, has fired a worker for some statements in a television report, according to the dismissal letter.
Last April, Roberto M., Sanitary Emergency Technician (TES) and legal representative of the CGT workers in the SSG company (trade unionists have special protection as part of their work), participated in an information issued in the news of La Sexta in which he shared the generalized discontent that according to him the group has – unions, associations and platforms of workers in the sector – about certain aspects of the management of ambulance transfers that occur in different communities of the country in times of COVID-19, in addition to labor claims of the sector such as the recognition of their professional category and that they are considered as health personnel, and the internalization by the health transport administrations.
“There cannot be a patient who goes to an oncological treatment attached to another patient who comes from an x-ray”; “they mix pathologies and are crowded, with journeys of more than an hour”; “This the public service would not allow”, are some of the phrases that Roberto said on the air, along with a specific labor claim, such as the company washing their uniforms (currently each worker has to do it at home despite the fact that there is a sentence, not firm and appealed, that gives them the reason to the contrary), a problem not exclusive to the Balearic Islands.
For SSG, these statements are “tendentious” against the company, “very serious and do not fit or support an alleged right to freedom of association”, and despite the fact that the worker “has the right to claim and express an opinion that the services of ambulances managed by the public administration are better managed (…) it cannot be tolerated to pour out a series of fallacious, harmful and threatening considerations in a biased way to achieve this objective – which a priori would be permissible within the framework of their union activity – but such and as it did, it accrued a very serious attitude, creating alarm in public opinion in general, and in the sector and the company in particular, “according to the dismissal letter that the worker received two months after the interview.
The letter includes expressions such as “said assertion is false and petty and creates a serious alarm and causes a bad image to the company”, accuses the worker of making a “hodgepodge” for claiming that COVID is considered an occupational disease for these workers “knowing that the issue of the classification of occupational diseases and accidents is a matter assumed to the State and not to our company “, and concludes for all this that” we can conclude that its only intention has been to cause a serious deterioration to the image of the company , through a series of defamations, without caring at all the repercussions that they may entail “, for which they consider him responsible for a very serious offense and impose a disciplinary dismissal.
“In the interview I did not even mention the company or any administrative body, neither Balearic nor State. In fact, I do not name anyone!”, Roberto replies, “I speak at the level of the sector in general and on my behalf. union (CGT), and transfer the demands of thousands of colleagues who are aware of this type of incidents. It is my obligation as a union member to report it, if I did not do so I would be seriously lacking both workers and public users who need our work “. And he gives as an example of what he considers excuses the claim of COVID as an occupational disease. “I do not know the reason why they feel alluded to by a specific claim logically directed to the responsible body, in this case Social Security,” the worker maintains. “It is a dismissal for some statements and violates freedom of expression and trade union freedom,” he adds. He has appealed it to the courts.
Patient mix in times of pandemic
One of the points that seems to have bothered the company the most is when the television report explains that patients with different ailments were mixed in the same ambulance, sitting a few centimeters from each other, in the midst of a pandemic. To illustrate the case, La Sexta used images of a transfer in Extremadura, with five or six patients in an ambulance (see the video), for which it asked the worker and introduced his statements as if he were talking about the Balearic Islands. “It is very serious to affirm that our company, and therefore also its colleagues, transfer users in the manner and manner that you affirmed, said assertion is totally false and petty,” alleges SSG. “The news is incorrect in time and space, because it neither happened in the Balearic Islands nor did it happen during the pandemic, it is earlier. The protocols during the pandemic did not allow it, the administration did not allow it,” a company spokesperson explains. . “The news echoes a topic without contrasting it,” he adds.
“It is true that the video is from another autonomous community, but the fact itself of transferring patients during the pandemic without respecting the safety distance and mixing pathologies has also happened in other communities, as denounced by other unions at the state level,” replied Roberto , which attaches some information in this regard (how is it in Jerez or this other one in Almería, examples that this happens beyond the fact that they are not from this same company). “The works council agrees with me and says that the five statements that appear in the dismissal letter are true.” The worker maintains that his dismissal has other motivations than disciplinary ones. “It is a union persecution also due to the fact that the ambulance agreement in the Balearic Islands begins to be negotiated, paralyzed for more than four years. Right now the agreement is being negotiated, the table was set up last week. I have the obligation to denounce these circumstances, such as the recent dismissals that other colleagues are suffering in Ibiza and Menorca “as a union representative, he argues.
The company, in addition to what is stated in the dismissal letter, clarifies that “in our services the clauses of the contracts signed with the administration are strictly complied with at least and we also do everything possible for the well-being of the patients”, As explained by a spokesperson, who also adds that as the case is being prosecuted, it cannot enter into specific questions about the reasons for the dismissal, although the letter delivered to the worker refers exclusively to the statements issued by La Sexta.
This newspaper has also asked the Health and Labor departments of the Balearic Government, since the dismissal concerns a company that manages a public service, but there has been no response.
“The employer must endure these manifestations”
Daniel Pérez del Prado, professor of Labor Law and Social Security at the Carlos III University of Madrid and member of the Spanish Association of Labor Law, explains that in principle the worker is protected by legislation and freedom of expression, ” with the limit of what we could call ‘the gratuitous offense’ “.” According to the reiterated jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court, the employer must support the manifestations made by the working person developed by the working person in the exercise of their freedom of expression whenever imply a healthy criticism of their performance. In the analysis of the assumption, factors such as the transmission medium used, the environment in which the expressions are produced, the veracity of what is said, should be taken into account, if there are injurious expressions , etc. The protection granted to freedom of expression when it comes to representatives, as it is an essential tool for the axis rcicio of its functions (STC 90/1999, 213/2002, 198/2004). In fact, art. 64 of the Workers’ Statute establishes additional guarantees: one is fulfilled, which is the contradictory procedure (the hearing of the dismissed person and the committee) and the other we will see what remains, which is the guarantee of indemnity, not being able to be fired for exercising their functions “, elaborates.
In the specific case, adds this expert, “if I were the judge, I would take into account that it seems that the demonstrations take place in an environment of conflict because the agreement is being negotiated. I would also take into account, as far as possible, the veracity From what is told, the type of expressions, none of them seem insulting or insulting (that they want to be TES is a legitimate claim and that it considers that the public service is more efficient than the private one, as the company itself recognizes, also falls within the freedom of expression and opinion of each one.) The medium has a great impact, because it is television, but only if there is damage, this will be great because of the medium used, a question that is debatable, “he closes.