Dishes to be washed by hand and malfunctioning ovens: school canteen workers protest

Exhausting workloads without being able to count on modern equipment and suitable structures: the cooks and school canteen workers in Rome “are exhausted” and if the change of pace loudly claimed does not come from the Municipality, they are ready to leave the kitchens of empty nurseries, kindergartens and primary schools. With the stove off.

The protest of cooks and school canteen workers

After the state of unrest proclaimed in recent months, protests are rekindled in the Capitoline school canteens where around 4500 employees, especially women, have to juggle every day between shortages, including personnel, and scarce technical equipment to guarantee meals for the students.

Dishwashers that don’t work, thus forcing the female workers to wash the cutlery of hundreds of children by hand, dishwashers that are so old that even when they manage to leave they are not able to rinse the dishes in the best possible way “so the washings have to be repeated over and over again to guarantee the right hygiene, but it all becomes a race against time” – some of the workers tell RomaToday.

Exhausting workloads in Roman school canteens

Then there are the double snacks and those hundreds of juices to be guaranteed “which, however, we have to do using almost homemade juicers”. Great effort and worktops to be cleaned several times. What about those menus “so complex in execution that they are not even appreciated by the students, such as – for example – leek soup”. Then there are those who find themselves lifting kettles filled with 20-30 kilos of pasta by hand, “a very dangerous practice”.

Unions are calling for more safety for canteen workers

“We want health and safety in the workplace to be ensured for all staff employed in schools. Ensuring an adequate school canteen service is not only a contractual and regulatory issue but also concerns the quality of a fundamental service offered to users” – wrote the general secretary of the CLAS trade union, Davide Favero, in a note. “The reasons that led to the opening of the state of agitation had already been duly reported by the union CLAS, Ugl, Confsal, Confintesa, Cub, in a joint note sent on 20 September to all interested parties, but despite this the situation is remained unchanged over time – underlines the manager Antonio Coscia of the CLAS union – such as respect for professionalism and contractual classification levels, harmonization of workloads, calculation of meals provided, stabilization of administered personnel and ordinary and extraordinary maintenance of equipment ” .

Requests to the Municipality: inspection of the canteens with the technicians

Obsolete ovens, dishwashers, hoods and kettles. “All of this – says Cristina Silvestri of Fisascat-Cisl Roma Capitale and Rieti to RomaToday – jeopardizes the safety of operators inside the school complexes and also affects the quality of the service offered to school children” . Without suitable equipment, the workload of the employees also increases “who are mostly single-earner women. Let’s not forget that these workers – underlines the trade unionist – are ‘suspended’ and without salary in the summer period, while schools are closed they take holidays and permits. Yet we owe a lot to the canteen operators because thanks to their professionalism and dedication to work they always manage to serve lunch to school children in Rome on time”. For this reason the unions are asking that canteen workers and cooks be put in the best possible conditions to work. “We ask that the Municipality suspend the use of earthenware (ceramic crockery ed.) until optimal conditions are restored for workers and small users. In the meantime bio-compostable material is used to protect the environment as well”. In the meantime, the unions are inviting the Campidoglio and town halls to carry out inspections with competent technicians and trade union delegations on all school facilities. “The reassurances that have been given to us in the past weeks are not enough: we need to see and touch – says Silvestri – what are the real conditions of the school canteens in Rome”.

Dishes to be washed by hand and malfunctioning ovens: school canteen workers protest