The Subway and Premetro Workers Union Association (AGTSyP-Metrodelegadxs) will hold a staggered strike this Wednesday across all subway lines to demand cuts in working hours to reduce exposure to asbestos, a carcinogenic mineral present in subway cars.
The strike began this morning with the 5.30 a.m. interruption of the E line and the Premetro, which will last until to 10 a.m.; the A and B lines from 10 a.m. to 2.30 p.m.; the D and C lines from 2.30 to 7 p.m., and finally the H line, from 7 to midnight.
In a statement, the union said it’s calling the strike because despite ongoing demands for better wages and working conditions, which include 30-hour weeks and two days off guaranteed in order to decrease asbestos exposure, their employers have not initiated any talks with union representatives.
According to a union press release, more than 900.000 subway users will be affected by the strike. The union apologized for the inconveniences, saying this is a “protest meant as self-defense.”
Emova, the company in charge of providing the subway service, said the union has an “uncompromising stance” after doing 17 strikes in the past months. “Emova continues to signal its openness to talks, but reducing the work week from 36 to 30 hours is unfeasible without affecting the subway operability,” they said in a press release.
Emova said that “according to steps taken” to remove asbestos from the subway cars, “conditions are adequate” to work. “The company is actively working on a de-asbestization plan as a continuation of the process initiated five years ago,” they added, in reference to work done by Metrovías, the company previously in charge of the subway.
The company also said that, in the last months, workers who participated in the strikes have suffered pay cuts. “These reductions are due to unpaid absences, and also because these workers did not complete their work day.”
In a press release on May 23 communicating a staggered strike that took place that day, AGTSyP-Metrodelegadxs laid out a series of accusations against the company. “Emova responds to our claims by lying to users saying that it’s safe underground. Meanwhile, workers get work days illegally deducted and receive illegitimate and illegal sanctions aimed at silencing their claim.”
They have also said in previous statements that several workers have fallen ill, and have even died, because of constant exposure to asbestos.