Almost all the warehouses of the Ugaldeguren industrial estate, in the Biscayan town of Zamudio, have the blind down by five in the afternoon. The workers leave through the back doors of the different companies, mounted in their cars, and there is little movement in the area, except for three or four trucks. In one of the pavilions, the Ajos y Onions Txorierri company is still open. Onion skin boxes are piled up at the entrance, next to the green delivery truck, the same as the one on the sign that presides over the entrance. Inside, more boxes. This time with garlic and onions stored in purple and orange mesh. Two employees, a man and a woman, peel the vegetables with their hands. The smell is strong. One of the employees explains that “the boss does not arrive until six.” Last week, the owner of Ajos y Cebollas Txorrieri, A. Rodríguez, who has finally arrived at six o’clock, was arrested by the National Police for an alleged crime against workers’ rights.
It was the employees themselves who came to report their situation to the National Police station in Bilbao, according to the document prepared by the body and made public this Wednesday. In it, it is explained that the owner of the company “had not formalized any contract” with his employees, since they lacked a residence permit, and that his salary was five euros per “effective” hour worked. In addition, the workers reported that the defendant “occasionally” subjected them to what he called “marathons”, which consisted of working days that exceeded 24 hours: from 7:00 am to 9:00 am the next day. 26 hours in total, in addition to being forced to spend the whole night locked in the ship. The complaint also states that, in the event of suffering some type of work accident that required medical attention, the owner “instructed them not to mention either the company or the place where they had suffered the injuries.” After collecting the statements, Agents of Group I of the Provincial Brigade of Immigration and Borders of Bilbao, together with officials of the Provincial Labor and Social Security Inspection, carried out a joint investigation in the company and last Tuesday an inspection of job.
Yes it is true that four were without a contract and that must be regularized
– owner of Garlic and Onions Txorierri
In it, a total of eight workers were identified, four of them without residence permits and without a work contract, for which the business owner was arrested, who, in addition to the crime against the rights of his employees, faces a possible financial penalty of more than 70,000 euros for having violated labor and social security legislation. After declaring in police offices, the accused has been released and is obliged to appear before the judicial authority that is instructing the case.
Now, A. Rodríguez claims that “it is true that four were without a contract” and that they will have to “regularize it”, but that the rest of the accusations are “a falsehood”. “All that marathon days that we imposed on workers is a lie. Not that. There were people here who came when they wanted to work and left when they wanted. 26 hours in a row no one has ever come here. In life,” he insisted. owner of Garlics and Onions Txorierri at elDiairio.es/Euskadi. Even so, he acknowledges that his employees “have worked at night some day”, but always “in several shifts” and that those who “have come (to work) have not been all those hours.” Given the seriousness of the employees’ statements and once the veracity of what was narrated by the victims had been verified, the Police investigators chose to grant them the status of protected witnesses, in order to avoid possible reprisals.
All that marathon days that we imposed on workers is a lie. Not that. Here were people who came when they wanted to work and left when they wanted
– owner of Garlic and Onions Txorierri
However, the owner considers that within the company there is “a person” who “wants to screw them” and who “has hatched a plan to do all this and harm” Ajos y Cebollas Txorierri. After appearing on the ship and repeating that he would not give further statements, he remarked that there were people working “irregularly” and that “that’s where the matter goes” because “everything else is to give them firewood.” “I want you to understand what situation I am in. I have a garlic and onion company, a business where people do not want to work. There are those who come to the door. And, since there are jobs that we cannot account for, they work for hours, but not in piecework hours, “he argued. Along these lines, he has been upset by the accusations and has concluded that “now everything is in a judicial process” and that “when it ends it will be seen.”