After an hours-long shutdown of some São Paulo Metro lines this Thursday (12), the company suspended written warnings to train operators and scheduled a meeting for next Monday (16) with workers.
The information comes from the state’s Union of Subway Workers. According to the entity, operations stopped on lines 2, 3 and 5, but were resumed early Thursday afternoon. Train operators had been receiving oral warnings for refusing to participate in activities that, according to them, were not part of their duties.
According to Alex Santana, director of the National Federation of Metro Railway Workers (Fenametro), the warnings were seen as retaliation for the recent strike and the operators’ refusal to carry out training aimed at supervisors from other areas of the company, not related to train traffic, as explained
“Train operators have been, for some time now, refusing to follow contingency training, which are those supervisors who are not from traffic, do not have their position, and have no relationship whatsoever with the train operation, including safety supervisors, administrative staff, maintenance. So, we are refusing to provide training for all contingencies that are not part of the position. It’s not a question of training for train operators, we recently provided training for that. A new group of train operators even graduated a week ago.”
In the workers’ third refusal, the warnings were made in writing. The union was contacted, gave a deadline for the suspension of punishments, but received no response, which triggered the strike.
“This time, due to recidivism, they started giving written warnings, which have legal weight, administrative weight, and have some legal problems in relation to this type of warning. As they also came by surprise, on a holiday, giving written warnings to everyone who refused to provide training with the contingency, the train operators called the union”, says Alex Santana.
Santana says that complaints have already been made about the issue to the Public Ministry of Labor. The procedure for the first half of this year has been archived. A few weeks ago, however, Fenametro presented new arguments and information to try to open a civil inquiry investigating the situation.
“This situation puts passengers at risk, the workers themselves and the system at risk. It is a misuse of function and is contrary to their right to strike due to their intention. There are several problems with these procedures trying to force this type of training. So everything has been reported and we are also waiting for the Public Ministry of Labor to investigate this situation, because this is the concrete reason for this update at this time.”
Also according to him, the São Paulo Metropolitan Company has committed to not imposing any more warnings and the category’s guidelines are for full resumption of operations.
In a note sent to the press, the metro said that “the action is a protest against a written warning given by the Metro to 5 train operators due to the repeated refusal of these five professionals to carry out their duties. They refuse to participate in the training and practical classes offered to other employees who are being trained for the role of train operation, procedures that are part of the routine of subway workers.”
“It is worth highlighting that the warning does not imply suspension or dismissal and that there is no impact on remuneration. The warning, for now, only fulfills its role of giving employees the opportunity to correct their misconduct.”
“The warning can also be questioned by employees, if they wish, administratively or judicially, which would not harm passengers. This protest led by the category’s Union is once again used to threaten the company and leaves the population that depends on transport hostage to their own interests”, he states, concluding that the metro “is studying legal measures that can be taken due to a strike which harms the population without prior warning.”
Editing: Rodrigo Durão Coelho