Sunday, July 3

Without the right to life there is no right to work

I write these words from deep pain and contained rage. And I do it with that feeling, because I know a lot, perhaps too much – between what I know and what I intuit – about the things that have happened around the death of companero Luis Gómez. Whom I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting, but about whom I can imagine so many things, and about whom I feel so close in class and in the railway profession.

So much so that I can almost imagine his life project, when he was just a few years old, with the illusion of youth, when many of us chose to be railwaymen through the trainee military battalions. I read at the end of an article, how Luis Gómez is describedand as his own daughter portrays him: Madrilenian from Usera, Luis had entered the suburban when he was still doing the military and never had another job. “My father started as a train driver and after two years he became station chief. He has served in many stations where works were being carried out, without any type of protection, and asbestos has been found in many of them ”, Veronica points out.”

Generationally, I am very close to Luis Gómez. I meet professional coincidences. Even with a similar physical description. With the desires and vital projects that, although unknown, surely had the link of the railway, and the desire to enjoy life when one retires.

And all that was cut short, evaporated, vanished.

Due to the homicidal negligence of some, the lives of Luis and eleven other colleagues from Metro Madrid ended, with proven cause; plus so many others (many more surely) of unproven causality…

I read again in the review: Verónica Gómez will never forget the date of June 15, 2021. Not because it was her 37th birthday, but because she received the worst news of her life. The result of the CAT scan that had just been done on her father, Luis Gómez, 64, a pre-retired Metro station manager, was devastating: a stage 4 lung cancer with metastases. In a matter of three months she lost 30 kg and her height was reduced from 1.85 to 1.60 due to the deformation that the tumor caused in her back.”.

And I put myself in the shoes of that daughter, of that family, to remember how the worst day of my life, and the worst night, were when I found out that my father would die in just three months, as it happened. And that, in my case, did not add to the tragedy, the data of an occupational disease so unfair, as if it could have been avoided.

And that family has been in my mind since the Saturday I learned of Luis’s death, as the unfortunate example that fear, sadness, pain and anger should never be the product of a job in which a person earn a living honestly. But the reality is that the family is devastated and very worried because almost all of its members are or have been employees of the company, including Pilar, Luis’s wife and their two daughters, Verónica and Gema, and their sons-in-law. ”There are a lot of us and none of us have ever been warned about the need to protect ourselves from asbestos or given any type of protection. Now we find warning stickers everywhere. Go figure”.

It is tremendous to think that a poison known since ancient times; with a clear legislative background on its danger since the beginning of the 20th century and with an absolute ban since the end of it, is capable of continuing to cause so much pain in the year 2022, well into the 21st century, due to inhumane and psychopathic managers.

The concrete data is even more tremendous. To think that in 2003, a group of directors of Metro Madrid, aware of their legal obligations derived from the “Survey on asbestos in Metro Madrid, directed by the Asbestos Working Group of the National Commission of the National Institute of Safety and Hygiene in the Labor” (INSHT), decided, instead of acting to protect people, as other companies did in those days, stowing that report in a drawer, risking the lives of working people and scattering drops of death, from their dirty hands of contempt for the working class and loaded with unnecessary pain.

I find it hard to have to believe such cruelty. But I can’t believe in such ignorance either. And now I am not talking about intuitions but about known data. Because I was a personnel technician, sharing responsibilities in occupational health, in a public company, with equal risks, which, in those same years, and in view of similar surveys, took measures to protect workers, against the potential damages derived from the handling of asbestos. Years later, I was a director of that same company, which continued, with each new discovery, taking measures to protect its workers.

And while all this was happening in other companies, the management leadership of Metro Madrid looked the other way, whistled, while pushing, with their whistles, the asbestos fibers into the lungs of their employees. Indecent, cruel, criminal, homicidal, bastard… There are no more adjectives to define these behaviors.

I will not be the one to substitute the final judicial opinion that finds imprudence or fraud, in each case of professional illness and death due to asbestos in Metro Madrid. It is not my competition. But it is expressing my opinion, my pain and my indignation, in light of my professional experience in the prevention of occupational risks to which I have been dedicated for years.

I know that indecent stratagems and tricks are being employed; business and litigation. That is why this reflection is especially painful for me. Because it is unacceptable, in accredited cases with medical reports from public institutions, to continue using delaying and denial tricks to increase the suffering of the victims and their families, and to do it with public money!

I had excellent law professors in the faculty where I studied. Teachers who nurtured and encouraged critical thinking. They taught perfectly what was the main fear that positive law could come to mean in the face of natural law, and fed the need for ethics in the interpretation and application of law. That they taught how the administrative legislation (coming from the sociologically alive Francoism), had made a faithful effort to separate political responsibilities from administrative ones, so that no elected official would answer for their mismanagement in court, and it would be diluted only in political responsibility. That theoretical guarantee of independence (as immunity or inviolability were historically), has been converted -as socially tolerated corruption-, in the absolute impunity of the politician, slipping the buck towards the officials, or public employees who execute their decisions. .

The asbestos tragedy in Metro Madrid is a textbook example of what I am trying to express. If not, answer the following questions: If since the famous INSHT survey, the top managers (appointed by the governments in power in the following 20 years), have not taken measures to protect people affected by asbestos at work How is it possible that none of them is charged? How is it possible that only the technical staff of the prevention service is charged?, which is an advisory body!, whose mission does not go beyond advising, proposing preventive policy and monitor it, under the executive orders of the company’s management personnel. And, even assuming their imputation for a possible malpractice, poor execution of their preventive obligations, how is it possible that they do not share the bench with those directors, both from the company’s management staff, as well as the designated political leaders, as trusted personnel? , of the regional government on duty, and the company’s guardianship council?

Answer yourself, if you can do it without vomiting, to those questions. And when they do, they will see that it is indecent and homicidal for someone to go to bed every night, knowing that their malpractice, their concealment of a serious occupational health problem, which has -within its high level of danger- possible measures of prevention and protection, was omitted and hidden until 12 colleagues from the Madrid Metro were left to die (plus those we do not know because their deaths were not investigated).

Nor is it that the political class is responding with due diligence to possible solutions to alleviate this labor tragedy. A tragedy experienced by the working class, victim of bad business management and that, for this reason, should never be forced to double the punishment of illness (until death), and the injustice that even fair compensation must be fought in a sort of judicial calvary. The State, at any of its administrative levels, cannot turn a deaf ear to demands for justice, in which the weak part of the link (the worker) is the victim of a business action (whether reckless or malicious), without giving a solution; contrary to what other European countries have done. No, it is not fair, it is not acceptable that the Great Policy does not exist to compensate for the damage caused to victims and families. Even less, in the case of public companies, whose servants -public employees-, are subject to diligence duties that, when they fail, should be covered without delay by the patrimonial responsibility of the State.

I write this on a day May 1. The day when the working class vindicates itself, and celebrates the fact of work itself. It celebrates emancipatory work, decent work, and with rights, in which no one loses their life due to the lack of security means and the absolute contempt of non-compliant employers. A desire so simple and fair, that it should not need vindication. However, the sad reality is that of partner Luis Gómez and his family, in which “Verónica assures that will fight in court to the end so that Metro assumes its responsibility and, above all, so that it doesn’t happen to more people”.

Today, my silent and dry tears, my contained rage, want to be the CCOO’s solidarity with the Gómez family; with all the families that make up the working class that pushes countries forward, with their effort and dignity; while other classes, without empathy and with patriotic imposture, play with their lives indecently.

Today more than ever, we show our class Solidarity with all the working families of the world, and we shout, while we still have healthy lungs, long live the struggle of the working class! And in that fight they will find us, without giving up, until the final victory!