Shortcomings of legal medical institute prompt strike

Four unions, CSIF, Intersyndicala Canaria, STAJ and CCOO, have presented a notice of general and indefinite strike at the Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences (IML) of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Representatives of these organizations point out that this organization, which is dependent on the Canary Islands Government, lacks adequate facilities and sufficient personnel to participate in the demographic and tourist growth recorded in recent years in the province. But, above all, they complain about the lack of transparency and the allegedly arbitrary decisions of the center’s current director, Jesús Vega González.

This is not the first time that union representatives have demanded that the Directorate General for Relations with the Administration of Justice dismiss the person in charge of the institution. But despite several General Directors passing through the said department of the Regional Executive in the last decade, they have had little success in their demands.

Desiree Guevara of the CCOO explains that there are 25 forensic doctors to meet the needs of the province of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. They are distributed as follows: one in Ecode de los Vinos, two in La Orotava, one in Puerto de la Cruz, three in La Laguna (there is one more, but he is on vacation), five in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, One in Guaimar, one in Granadilla de Abona, three in Arona (there should be four), one in La Gomera, one in El Hierro, two in La Palma and four in the pathology service of the institute (which performs autopsies).

Guevara points out that, with the regionalization of issues of violence against women in the districts of Santa Cruz de Tenerife (which considers the cases of La Laguna and Guimar) and Arona (which focuses on issues of Granadilla), both of them Forensic expert parties have 30 percent more work, but the squad has not expanded yet.

there is a shortage of assistants

Another shortage is in autopsy assistants. There are four at the centre, who must also travel outside Tenerife to help forensic experts stationed in La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro. One of these problems occurred in the summer. Two were on sick leave and one was on vacation. The fourth had to rely on autopsies performed on different islands, “but it could not be divided,” says Guevara.

And then there’s the physical space and building equipment. CCOO representatives point out that there is a need for more autopsy rooms and more cold rooms to store dead bodies. In the words of the representative of the Workers’ Commission, the estate has become too small for the populations supported by the islands of Tenerife, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro. And if it is necessary to increase the number of forensic doctors in all judicial districts, it is also considered necessary to increase the number of psychologists, social workers, assistants, managers and judicial processors.

For union spokesmen, one complaint against the director is that he allegedly provides preferential treatment to some employees over other executives. According to Guevara, union activity began eight years ago and even then there was controversy regarding Vega Gonzalez. However, he says all CEOs have “looked the other way.”

Unionists have warned that there is no request for a pay rise in this protest. They want the Canary Islands government to sit down and talk with union organizations and find a solution. According to Guevara, his complaint is that there are no action protocols in different areas and decisions are made according to the director’s criteria, which may vary from one occasion to another.

In the strike notice, the CSIF, CCOO, IC and STAJ said that “hostile behavior by the Director, publicly issuing disqualifications and disrespect against employees who express their opinions, complain or criticize his management; essentially Threats not to comply with requested actions, which violate basic labor rights and withholding greetings from key personnel, with their behavior being responsible for generating an unstable and coercive work environment.

Union representatives claim that “irregularities in the provincial guards” have been discovered, as “the director spent months assigning guard shifts and certifying himself, on several occasions overlapping with the guards of the La Laguna region, the rest Doctors with ignorance of forensics. The organizations that called for the strike notice say that “these incidents have led to a judicial file, which is currently ongoing, which once again exposes the lack of transparency on the part of the Director Reflects.”

Jesús Vega has been in office since 2009. Regarding those who are critical of his management, he says that “they will find out what reasons they have for acting that way”. Regarding some of the allegations that reached him, he commented that they are “completely false”. And he makes clear that he does not have the ability to solve the personnel shortage or the need for more resources and better facilities. For Vega González, the criticism is due to the special interests of some officials and is “clearly unfair.”

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