From mailbox to mailbox in full health alert
Correos changes the protocol to continue dealing letters by including its service among essential activities
Full car, empty streets. Postmen such as Juan Ramón Calabaza from Bilbao travel faster in their work, classified as an essential activity by the decree that toughens the containment measures, without so much urban hustle and bustle. This delivery man walks from portal to portal through the central Bilbao area of Indautxu protected with a mask that modifies his voice when he speaks through the intercoms. The physical porters know him from so many daily visits and discuss the news with him without losing his sense of humor:
“I leave you some letters with viruses,” announces Pumpkin.
The concierge, Javi, picks them up and takes them to his domain. Both smile, ironic, immersed in a reality that they would never have imagined a month ago.
The protocols that have been imposed on this postman, as well as on the 53,605 Correos employees, aim to reduce the risk of contagion for users and workers. A change from two weeks ago: already with the quarantine imposed, the dealers hardly had protection. The masks, gloves and individual hygiene gels arrived on Monday 23, this official complains, after days of work without guarantees. “We have been able to both infect and spread it,” he laments, continuing to lighten the yellow cart.
Ricardo Ochoa, delegate of the ESK union in Correo Bizkaia and member of the staff board, criticizes that “the damage has already been done”, however much the material has been arriving. “For almost a week, everyone who worked in front of the public did so without protection,” he says.
The CGT union has denounced that 767 of these public workers had tested positive, another 2,147 remained in quarantine and that two colleagues have died. This figure increased compared to the data that the union quantified just two weeks ago. The entity has not released figures; only data for unions “with a commitment to confidentiality”, but it has decided that its workers over 60 years stay at home, as well as pregnant women or those with previous pathologies.
Post office spokespersons affirm that active personnel is the “essential minimum” to operate normally and that they have been alternating since last week to lighten the number of postmen in the headquarters or predistribution areas as much as possible. From Correos they ugly the position of the unions and insist: Correos only provides the compulsory public postal service, with the minimum essential staff to guarantee it to all citizens and companies in Spain. To do this, it has reorganized its operations and has implemented new action protocols that ensure the continuity of public service, while protecting, as a priority, the health of its workers and their clients. The result of these measures is that last week they worked in person at Correos an average of 11 daily.
But the postmen are not convinced by this measure. Both Calabaza and two other colleagues of his affirm that the casualties of the older employees, a high number according to them, and the absences of those with medical conditions have caused them to have to return to their daily shifts. In this way, they argue, there is still a greater chance of contact at the Post offices when professionals come to the beginning and end of their work day, apart from those who physically work in these places.
The Covid-19 threat has also altered the working methodology. Users no longer have to sign electronically on PDAs, but simply give their name, surname and ID to postmen. And so the delivery man from Bilbao proceeds by going to the office of a company, one of the few that is still operating in a building full of them.
The recipient demands a safety distance and is nervous: “I am not going to sign anything.” It is not necessary to resolve the procedure and for Calabaza to continue its route through Bilbao. He explains that people have understood this particular context and that it complies with the rules, but he clarifies: “Some people pass the subject, it seems that they are not aware.” He confesses that sometimes they try to touch him or get too close.
This situation, unheard of during his 18 years in the guild, transmits insecurity to this father of two children, aged eight and three. His partner teleworking and taking care of the minors as best he can. That is why this postman criticizes the delay in receiving the medical supplies, although Correos spokesmen assure that they have been taking “informative, organizational and preventive measures since January 28” and that the instructions of the Ministry of Health have been followed at all times. .
Calabaza understands that its service is considered essential activity and values that the distribution of larger packages has been canceled , something that until recently it continued to do. Now they have to distribute only letters, mostly certified. The dealer, however, criticizes that in these circumstances, invoices continue to be sent in paper format. “They could wait a few weeks, they will pay equally”, ditch.
Information about the coronavirus
– Here you can follow the last hour on the evolution of the pandemic
– The coronavirus map: this is how cases grow day by day and country by country
– Questions and answers about coronavirus
– Guide to action against the disease
– In case of symptoms, these are the phones that have been enabled in each community