A new worker’s death has shocked the workers of the sugar industry. On Saturday night, Guillermo Alejandro Valdez was working at the Santa Bárbara sugar mill in Aguilares. The 53-year-old worker was working at a height and, in circumstances that are being investigated, fell into the void. He was taken to the hospital in Aguilares, but arrived dead.

The employers’ association – with Rodrigo Zalazar Romero as the visible face of Siambón and Zanjas – did not provide any public communication, seeking to naturalize these brutal events as “accidents” and not be seen as consequences of the precarious conditions in the sugar mills. More than a “tragedy” these are events where those responsible have names and surnames.

The death of “Toty” Valdez at Santa Bárbara is the third worker death in sugar mills so far in 2024. On March 7, Julio Ángel Cruz, 64, died after falling from a height of 8 meters while working at the Marapa distillery. Days later, on April 16, Adrián González, 27, died after falling from 15 meters while performing tasks at height in a warehouse that the Concepción sugar mill has in Alderetes. Both Marapa and Concepción belong to Emilio Luque’s group.

Days before this new worker death, the explosion of a tanker truck at the La Corona sugar mill (owned by the Arano family) resulted in a young man, Julián Bulacio, being hospitalized with serious burns and fighting for his life.

The government of Osvaldo Jaldo continues to look the other way in the face of worker deaths, which are a brutal consequence of employers’ failure to comply with safety measures and the guarantee of personal protective equipment. Employers also seek to increase profits with faster work rates and the advance of precariousness, which is why they supported the Ley Bases. The flip side is that sugar workers are exposed to daily risks that can be fatal.

The position of the FOTIA is scandalous on two counts. On the one hand, it does not take any measures to defend the workers, neither from the unions per mill nor as a federation and dividing between employees and outsourced workers. It accepts that every harvest has worker deaths while the employers talk of a “record harvest”. And on the other hand, it remains silent from the provincial Labor Secretariat that it occupies with Luis González.

In the face of this, it is necessary for unions and FOTIA to promote health and safety committees made up of workers elected in an assembly, demanding compliance with protocols, the provision of safety elements, and against working conditions that make workers’ lives precarious to the point of fatal consequences.

Source: www.laizquierdadiario.com

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