Monday, July 11, 2016

Keeping Pollensa Clean: It's never easy

Another spot of bother in Pollensa. This time it's not one involving tourists (and residents) getting agitated about - choose as applicable - ice-cream kiosks, beach services, poor quality semi-pedestrianisation work or semi-pedestrianisation work, period. It's all to do with the municipal services agency, Emser, a body that is not unfamiliar with the occasional controversy.

A year or so ago the Balearic High Court ruled that the existing contract for Emser's cleaning service should be annulled. It was (may still be) with a joint venture organisation consisting of three firms. An appeal against this contract had been launched by two other companies, both of them rather better known than the three with the contract - Melchor Mascaró and FCC.

The contract had been in place for some five years by then, its announcement made with a bit of a fanfare and vehicles parked in Pollensa's Plaça Major with accompanying dignitaries, such as the then mayor, Joan Cerdà, and a selection of workers. Challenges to contracts do, it has to be said, take their time, and the court's decision came at an awkward moment for the town hall: the new administration was only just being put together following the May municipal election.

There was further awkwardness. The town hall couldn't just stop the service, as there would obviously have been no street cleaning. A new contracting procedure needed to be undertaken. Whether it has been, I'm unclear.

Soon after the court's ruling, Pollensa favourite awkward squad - the Alternativa per Pollença - was having a go at the Emser management over alleged "malpractice" in hiring of staff. This had arisen, the Alternativa suggested, because the previous town hall administration under Tomeu Cifre (when he was still with the Partido Popular) was "not a great lover" of transparency when it came to things like managing public services.

The latest problem has to do with Emser's fleet of vehicles, which include the rubbish-collection trucks. Worker representatives at Emser have denounced the company to the employment ministry's inspectorate and to the social security. This is because, they say, the ITV (MOT) of "many of the vehicles" has expired. It's probably as well that these vehicles aren't travelling along certain stretches of motorway where there are hidden cameras which check on expired MOTs therefore.

Furthermore, Emser is said to be paying less than diligent attention to hygiene standards and labour rules regarding overtime. The worker representatives say that they will withdraw their "denuncias" if the town hall sorts things out quickly. The Alternativa, never slow off the mark in demanding transparency, has called for a company which is "efficient, democratic and transparent": the Alternativa is none too impressed by the level of transparency being displayed by the left-dominated administration of Junts Avançam.

Well, maybe there will be some solution. The councillor for Emser matters is Andres Nevado, the very same delegate for Puerto Pollensa who has found himself in the eye of the various storms to break out over the Moll. He was recently in Germany looking at new trucks for the rubbish-collection service. At least those would be ok with their MOTs, one would think, though their purchase will doubtless raise some further issue of transparency. Which is not to suggest for one moment that there would be anything wrong; only to suggest that the Alternativa is bound to find some reason to question the transparency.

That's Pollensa; that's how they do it. Never in a straightforward manner.

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