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The Miguel Hernández school kitchen staff, overwhelmed: “We can’t do it anymore”

The current staff of the Miguel Hernández school dining room is overwhelmed. Today only three of the five workers that make up the team are active and one of them is temporarily transferred from another educational center in Malaga, specifically from Isaac Peral in Alhaurín de la Torre”.We want to offer the best service to students because we love our work, but don’t you realize that it is impossible for us? ”, They explain to Ole Benalmádena

What at first glance seems to focus on a problem solely and exclusively of lack of personnel hides a much deeper problem, unknown to the public, which has these workers in a state of continuous stress and anxiety. The main reason why they have decided to speak, as they emphasize is, “because we can no longer do it“.

The average age of these three employees is over 60 years old and two of them are welcomed, or awaiting approval of a favorable file, to mobility by Occupational Health, that is, they are people who, due to the performance of their work, are afflicted with any disease or illness, for which the Administration, after complying with all the necessary procedures and reports, approved a transfer to another position within his area of ​​expertise, but whose performance does not affect his health.

Specifically, both were transferred in their day to Francisco  de Asís juvenile center from the neighboring town of Torremolinos, but when the Junta proceeded to its closure in April, due to the lack of personnel in the school Miguel Hernández, they began to carry out their work in the dining room service of this educational center.  

With a gesture of helplessness, they say that “we had to go through many procedures to prove that we could not carry out our work for health reasons so that they would give us a position according to our medical situation and now we see ourselves, even worse, than before we asked for the transfer ”. The ailments of these workers do not allow them to carry out certain tasks, but now they either carry them out, “or the daily food for students does not go forward”.  

None of the three have the professional qualification of chefs, although they are forced to carry out their tasks. The school canteens function in its organization chart like any restaurant and, therefore, this position in addition to supervising and controlling everything that is done in the kitchen, also performs a series of bureaucratic tasks such as the list for suppliers, the control of dates of food, the organization of cold stores, among a long etcetera.  

In addition, as in any school cafeteria, there are students with different allergies and / or food intolerances, so they have to prepare certain specific menus for these students on a daily basis and obviously follow the nutritional recommendations required by the Junta de Andalucía, as a guarantor of the quality of its dining room service in Andalusian educational centers. 

And if they did not have enough with the students of the Miguel Hernández– which exceeds 250 diners-, they also have to feed the children of El Panal, who started the course without having the adequate facilities to provide this service and that the Administración autonómica moved to Miguel Hernández

In some educational centers, the canteen monitors are in charge of setting up and removing the tables and disinfecting them at all times, as it cannot be forgotten that schools follow  strict hygiene protocols due to the pandemic. At the Miguel Hernández, the monitors, according to Ampa‘s complaint, “only watch the children, because the Junta does not want to pay them one more hour, which is what is needed to set the tables, and who does it? kitchen workers ”.  

The staff feels “helpless.” They assure that “this will completely end our health because we come to work with physical pain, since for something they transferred us to the juvenile center, where there were only a dozen diners.” They emphasize that their mental health is also being affected by the situation they have been experiencing these months and that, according to one of the employees, “I worked through the entire pandemic and now they don’t even want to give me the days off that correspond to me so that I can at least take a break, rest a bit and recover physically, and obviously they don’t want to pay me for those days either. ” 

The kitchen staff at Miguel Hernández underlines that “nobody imagines the pressure we have on a daily basis to get our work done” and they agree that the solution happens because “new people are hired and they return us to our original positions“. 

In short, three kitchen assistants carry out the tasks of five -including those of a head chef-, they also take care of the food of the El Panal students while they adapt the facilities of this other school, put and remove the tables and are concerned about compliance with preventive measures for the covid, follow the nutritional recommendations imposed in the preparation of the menus, carry out other specific ones for children with food allergies and intolerances, they cannot access their legitimate vacation days and / or own business  because “they tell us that since there is a lack of personnel it is impossible” and also, they endure a worsening of their physical health, recognized, according to Occupational Health -which in its day approved the transfer to another job for this reason-, to which must be added the day-to-day pressure by “doing the best we can, because we cannot forget that we feed many children, and for us they are the most important thing.” 

For its part, the Ampa of the Benalmadense educational centerfears that, in view of this panorama, “the dining room will closeor they will impose a catering serviceon us, since it seems that the responsible politicians all keep in mind is that the solution to the problem is the cheapest possible ”.  He denounces that “they don’t even think about the students we have enrolled in the plan Syga”, a solidarity and food guarantees program that provides coverage in school canteens to school children from families at risk of social exclusion, for whom the lunch they make at school is, in most cases, the central meal of the day due to the lack of economic resources within the family. 

The Ampas of Benalmádena do not leave the workers alone 

The three workers in the Miguel Hernández dining room are not alone. The Ampa school is going out of his way to demand “real” solutions for the canteen service . In addition, at the initiative of the Ampa del Poeta Salvador Rueda –who suffered “the consequences” for the temporary transfer of her head chef to another school – a written with a battery of claims that will be transferred jointly to the Junta de Andalucía and that, according to reports, “already has the support of a large part of the Ampas of the schools of Benalmádena ”. 

Those involved insist that “you don’t play with the quality of our children’s food and neither is the health of the workers in our dining rooms”. They do not understand how “an Administration can take a year without covering a retirement leave, or put workers in canteens who were precisely transferred to other types of centers due to illnesses or health problems caused by their work”. 

The Ampas benalmadenses are not willing to “shut up” and insist that, “we will do everything in our power to make them new hires and stop pulling cheap and meaningless solutions, that the only thing they have caused is reduce the canteen services of three schools and putting to the limit some workers who give everything every day, but who can no longer do it ”. 

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