Monday, October 25

The challenge of Labor Inspection in meat companies

I have always considered that the examinations for a labor inspector are extremely demanding since they require the study of a large number of subjects and subjects that are very different from each other. However, with the passing of the years and the acquisition of professional experience I have to admit that few of these issues I identify as insubstantial. Knowing the labor regulations, social security, occupational risk prevention, cooperatives and immigration (yes, also procedural and procedural) contributes to conceiving as a “whole” the world of labor relations, and facilitates the understanding of its implications on the working conditions of workers. It is the advantage of a general Labor Inspection system such as the Spanish one.

Following the title of the article, an example of what has been said is our inspection actions in companies in the meat sector: a sector in which, due to the nature of the various activities that comprise it, the forms of work organization, the production system, the organization of legal relationships, the risks to which workers are exposed, and their own diversity, make up a complicated panorama that requires extensive knowledge and training.

It is usual that the previous information you have about the company’s workforce does not correspond to the scenario that you find in the inspection visit. In addition to the company’s own workers, we will see working people close to them, but without a direct employment relationship. Namely, they may be members of an associated work cooperative, workers of a Temporary Employment Company or, more recently, belong to a third company whose activity is various services (multi-service company). Therefore, a first appreciation leads us to perceive that in the same workplace there are workers with non-homogeneous working conditions and, even, with different social protection because they are framed in different social security regimes. At this point, we will deploy our knowledge of Commercial Law and Labor Law to reveal inter-company legal relations and investigate that, through these commercial contracts, figures of illegal filing such as the transfer of workers that weaken their individual rights are not concealed. and groups and the income of Social Security decreases.

To access the production rooms, the company will provide me with a gown, a head cover and a protector for my safety boots, not so much to protect its staff from my potential contagious diseases, but to guarantee the safety and health of the product that is stored there. elaborate. In order to verify adequate compliance with health and safety conditions at work, I will use most of the regulatory standards that develop the Occupational Risk Prevention Law: the regulations on exposure to biological agents to detect how the company avoids possible risks. risks derived from the presence of these agents in the animals that are handled; the regulation of workplaces, both in a general and specific way, for example in terms of cleaning and treatment of floors (non-slip), and without forgetting everything related to the use of machinery, work equipment, cutting tools (I warn , they are not kitchen knives at home), fire protection, etc. It would not be reasonable in this incomplete relationship to ignore ergonomic arrangements. The physical load, forced postures and repetitive movements in the jobs of these companies are relevant.

It is possible that I also devoted my attention to the dimension of the immigration regulations, to the pure effects of the observance of everything related to the work and residence authorizations of foreign personnel. The reason is that people of foreign nationality and of very diverse nationalities have a notable presence in the workforce of these companies, not always one prevails. At this point I will make a personal confession: the trigger that led me to carry out a doctoral thesis on the protection of health and safety for foreign workers was my routine investigation of work accidents in companies in the meat sector. I did not understand how the workers did not understand what I was asking them about the occupational accident they had suffered due to lack of knowledge of the language and, nevertheless, the company provided me with a certificate of preventive training, its content and attached to it a self-assessment with a ten result when it was written in Spanish (the answer that I did not get from the inspector I found as a researcher. Along with the self-evaluation paper they placed another one with the correct and indicated crosses). This varied reality is a management plus for the company. All companies in this sector, and those responsible for human resources know this very well, must manage diversity in its different aspects (functional, generational, gender, etc.), but in these companies it is essential to lead the plurality of ethnic groups, origins and cultures. It would not be the first time that there have been incidents, attacks and acts of violence that may be related to these circumstances and that the company is obliged to avoid.

Nothing is further from my intention in writing this opinion piece than to discredit these companies, which I recognize as a significant weight both in the economy and in the generation of employment. Simply, to show that it is a complex sector from the point of view of labor relations, employment and the supervisory or control aspect. The sector itself is aware of foreseeing in its collective agreement the creation of the first “State sectorial observatory of meat industries”, and adopting the commitment to reduce the use of the so-called “Associated Work Cooperatives”, considering that it is not the adequate solution for the necessary stability of employment in the sector, the professional training of workers, the improvement of productivity and the competitiveness of companies.

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