January 20, 2021

“We had to improvise sleeping mats”


More than a hundred workers of the Canal de Isabel II have been trapped since Friday in their work centers due to the storm. These are facilities, such as control stations and treatment plants, spread throughout the territory of the Community of Madrid, some of them in remote areas with difficult access. The workers do not have food and do not know when they will be able to leave in the face of frost and the lack of foresight of the regional government.

“Our main complaint is the Canal’s lack of organization with respect to workers. Since Friday we have asked that the SUVs we have be made available to the operators of the drinking water and wastewater treatment plants. However, these people have been held incommunicado since they entered at 2:00 p.m. and could not return home and those who arrived on Friday night shift at 10:00 p.m. “, explains to elDiario.es Emilio Torres, prevention delegate of the Workers’ Commissions (CCOO).

Delgado adds that some workers have managed to leave with vehicles from Canal de Isabel II, but not with the help of Civil Protection. “We have been warning them since Friday and due to not attracting attention or due to the lack of communication that the Community of Madrid has, they have not succeeded,” he laments.

With the recent opening of some Cercanías lines, the possibility has been opened that some operators can walk back, but it is still not a solution because, according to the prevention delegate, “there are people who live in the mountains or who have no possibility later to take the subway or anything “.

The situation of the operators varies according to the plant. One of the trapped, who prefers not to reveal his name, is with four other colleagues with whom he has spent almost 50 hours since he entered work. “One of the people in charge of the plant has provided us with food, who was on vacation and has arrived with a 4×4 van, but there are plants where they haven’t even had that,” he says. Spending the night, as the worker adds in a tired voice, has not been easy either: “We had to improvise some mats with things from the plant to be able to sleep.” Right at the time of the call, they are cleaning the access to the plant where the 5 workers are, since, “in theory”, they will be rescued tomorrow.

From the Canal de Isabel II they have issued this Sunday an internal statement to their workers to which this newspaper has had access in which they limit themselves to saying that “the priority continues to be the safety” of their workers. “We are coordinated with Civil Protection and with the authorities of the Community of Madrid to help us clean the accesses as soon as possible. They are aware of the importance of the essential service we provide,” they add.

They continue to say that “as they do not have snow plows” they are trying to “mobilize the drivers who usually help us with non-specific machinery that may be useful. Yesterday it was impossible to access their machines, but today we are trying again.”

The situation has also been denounced by Podemos in the Community of Madrid, through the mouth of its general coordinator, Jesús Santos: “We need urgent action. From Podemos we beg the Community of Madrid to put in the necessary means to rescue these workers, because the situation is dangerous for the safety and health of the Canal Isabel II staff “.

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