On December 21, 2015, it was the last day of internships at a Daniel A. workshop. Cantabrian student of 25 years of Dual Vocational Training (combining classes and practices) in mechanics. His tutor of the practices, the head of production of the company -in the Cantabrian town of Vargas-, asked him to reduce the diameter of a metal piece with a lathe. The machine, which according to an expert report, did not comply with the security measures and lacked, among other things, an automatic stop device for emergencies, caught the glove of his hand and his body was dragged to the machine. The blows against the winch killed him.
Last January, Santander's number one criminal court considered the manager and the workshop production manager guilty of reckless homicide and sentenced them to 18 months in prison and, in the case of the manager, to three years of special disqualification. "At first, the case was filed and remained as Daniel's negligence. We wanted to show that the responsibility had not been his and we resorted to criminal matters, "explains Julio César García, family lawyer.
The most serious, says García, is that the young man did not receive any occupational risk prevention course at the company, where he was almost two years. "Being an internship, it did not enter into the agreement nor did it count as a workforce. The only thing he got was a talk from an administrative and a folio that he signed as having received the safety information, but nobody taught him the dangers of the machinery of the workshop, "denounces the lawyer. "If I had been registered with the Social Security, the company should have provided the appropriate training and information on security standards," adds Garcia. After the accident, the Labor Inspectorate obliged the company to register the student with Social Security and to assume the contribution for the internship years.
The decree approved last December by the Government came after the Labor Inspectorate forced the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM) to pay the contributions of 376 scholars. The labor police concluded, according to eldiario.es, that the campus covered with them jobs and that these practices had "nothing to do with the degree taken by the students."
In recent years, university students have dared to denounce fraudulent practices. María, who prefers not to give her real name, student of Physics of the UAM, denounced the company where she did the internships for six months because they covered with her a structural position of a worker who remained on maternity leave. "Yes, I was scared, but I wanted to fight so that other comrades would not suffer the same," he says. He charged about 400 euros a month and managed to reach an agreement with the company, which declined to go to trial, for which he was compensated with 2,000 euros. María did not receive any training in occupational risk prevention. Like her, many of her colleagues begin to rebel against the injustices of the labor market.
In Spain, there is no record of work accidents of these students. Of the 534,000 undergraduates and students of vocational training who practice, only 80,000 are discharged, according to CC OO, but because they charge for their practices. "The others are unprotected and that's what you want to regulate. They have to be treated in the same way as salaried workers, "said sources with the Ministry of Labor. The Government approved a decree law on December 28 that forces universities, institutions and companies to register students in non-work placements in the Social Security, whether they are paid or not. The Executive undertook to prepare the regulation that accompanies the decree in three months, but the call for elections has truncated the project.
The conference of rectors (CRUE) has made a recount of the university students who do internships, some 400,000, of which 65% do so in public institutions. "We agree that we must improve the coverage of students in companies, also in terms of prevention of occupational risks," says Miguel Angel Collado, rector of the University of Castilla-La Mancha and responsible for Student Affairs of the CRUE .
From the Ministry of Labor they insist that Spaniards in practices are among the least protected in the European Union. They believe that Spain should aspire to the Dutch model, where labor regulations apply to students in practice, both in working hours and in job security, as well as the rules on equal treatment, although in general the practices are not remunerated and are not quoted. After the accident of Daniel A., the Government of Cantabria amended in 2018 the order that regulates Dual Vocational Training and now companies are obliged to remunerate those practices (the amount can not be less than 80% of the minimum interprofessional salary, which amounts to 900 euros), to register students and offer training in occupational risk prevention. "There are certain practices that have risks, because they do not consist in being in an office", explains María Jesús Reimat, general director of FP of Cantabria.
In the FP, all the grades have the subject of Training and Labor Orientation (FOL). However, many companies consider it insufficient. "It's a very basic training that, on occasion, forces companies to put in place specific plans for these students. Not all do it because it is an expense that they have to assume, "says Ignacio De Benito, project manager of the Bertelsmann Foundation, involved in the promotion of Dual Vocational Training in Spain.
Each autonomy has developed its own regulations for Dual Vocational Training - comparing studies with internships in a company for two years - and there is no consensus on issues such as the remuneration of practices. "In Catalonia, Madrid, Murcia, the Balearic Islands, Castilla y León and Cantabria is mandatory. In regions like Andalusia, Canary Islands, Extremadura or Asturias is voluntary ", explains the expert Ignacio de Benito. "With the current model, occupational risk prevention is not well polished, it is a system failure".
Dual Vocational Training -which consists of combining studies for two years with internship practices in a company- arrived in Spain in 2012 and, despite the fact that nearly 70% of students achieve a job, only 0.4% of students take that option compared to 17% on average in OECD countries. Each autonomy has developed its own regulations and there is no consensus on basic issues such as remuneration of the practices, which is optional and in some communities depends on the will of the companies. "In Catalonia, Madrid, Murcia, the Balearic Islands, Castilla y León and Cantabria, remuneration is obligatory, and in other regions such as Andalusia, the Canary Islands, Extremadura or Asturias, it is voluntary", explains Ignacio de Benito, study coordinator. Dual FP in the educational centers: visions of the teaching staff, published in 2017.
"With the registration in Social Security, all would be benefits, companies have to understand that it is an investment, not an expense.The employer who makes an economic bet, is more involved in the evolution of the student, the free is not valued", Add. With the current model, accurate, the prevention of occupational hazards is not "well polished", it is "a system failure".