Invoices instead of contracts and weekend leave: Labor sanctions the Malaga Philharmonic Orchestra | Culture

Invoices instead of contracts and weekend leave: Labor sanctions the Malaga Philharmonic Orchestra | Culture
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The composer Felix Mendelssohn wrote the first bars of his Scottish symphony during a trip to Scotland in 1829. He premiered it more than a decade later in Germany and, almost two centuries later, the Malaga Philharmonic Orchestra (OFM) had it on the program number 11 that he performed on Thursday, April 18 and Friday, April 19 at the Cervantes Theater in the Andalusian city. He did it with three cellos instead of eight, among the 19 absences in the string section, according to the works committee. “We are facing a serious labor problem,” explains Carlos González, president of the committee, who assures that the word stability sounds very distant in this workforce. Now, after detecting 50 musicians without Social Security registration between 2021 and 2024, the Labor Inspection has sanctioned the Málaga City Orchestra Consortium, a company formed by the Málaga City Council and the Junta de Andalucía 50% that manages the group. . He has also punished her for canceling artists on their days off. When asked by EL PAÍS, sources from the company that runs the orchestra explain that they abide by the decision, but that they will appeal it “due to the characteristics and peculiarities of the jobs that the musicians must fill.”

The OFM was born in 1991 as a response “to the conviction that a city like Malaga should have a great symphony orchestra,” according to its website. Directed by José María Moreno, directors such as Aldo Ceccato and Edmon Colomer have also been at the helm. He has numerous recognitions, but labor problems have also been one of his constants. Already in 2019, the company even suspended a concert so that, as the Workers’ Commissions denounced at the time, the musicians could not exercise their right to strike during a stage of mobilizations. “We have always had problems for one thing or another,” says one of the musicians, who prefers to remain anonymous and believes that what the Labor Inspection has uncovered “is not new” and that it has been done for many other seasons. The Association of Professional Musicians of Symphony Orchestras (AMPOS) has requested the “immediate dismissal” of the orchestra manager, Juan Carlos Rodríguez Aguilar, due to irregularities in the hiring of personnel, but also due to the “systematic non-compliance with the collective agreement” or the “obstruction of the business committee.”

The structure of the Málaga OFM includes 92 structural positions, but in the orchestra there are currently 24 unfilled vacancies according to the committee, 15 according to the company. “We have a permanently in-field squad,” says González. For this reason, they need reinforcement personnel for the concerts, which are held an average of four days a month from September to June at the Teatro Cervantes. This is what generally happens with the piano and at other times with percussion or strings, according to the musicians. They explain that it is as if a restaurant started every week with different waiters and cooks or if played on Sundays with a starting eleven where four or five players have been signed that week. “This way an orchestra cannot be together,” they emphasize, while ensuring that these reinforcements were required to sign an invoice instead of signing an employment contract. “That way they were paid half as much as the staff,” explain the same sources. On other occasions they did have a contract, but if, for example, the musician was required for a month, he would sign only from Monday to Friday in the first week to do so again from Monday to Friday in the following weeks. Every Saturday and Sunday they were discharged.

When asked about these irregularities, sources from the public company that manages the orchestra assure that the sanction of the Labor Inspection is based on the consideration that the OFM cannot use the means of contracting for services to fill vacancies. But they will appeal because “due to the characteristics and peculiarities of the jobs they must fill, they need greater agility in hiring musicians” since “temporary job hires are subject to deadlines that prevent them from hiring the necessary personnel.” in case of unexpected absences or last minute substitutions.” From the OFM they also explain, “that the characteristics of the positions to be filled must be distinguished and contemplated in the Contracting Law and take into account that, in the event of the resignation of one of the musicians, the scheduled concert must be held and if “They do not replace the place, it would force the event to be cancelled.” And they insist that the job bank is being “streamlined” and that public employment offers are updated daily on their website.

Prior notices

The works council claims that it had already notified management of the illegality because they considered it to be a situation of false self-employment. “It makes no sense for a person with an employment contract to have another person sitting next to him who does the same thing but with a different and more precarious employment relationship,” emphasizes Carlos González. On November 11 of last year, a representative of the Labor Inspection appeared at the rehearsal location – located in the Carranque neighborhood – and detected that between January 2021 and 2024 there were 50 musicians “without registration in Social Security on their own account.” of the denounced employing company” as stated in the letter from the organization to which EL PAÍS has had access. For this reason, he proceeded to process the registrations and cancellations ex officio, as well as issue an infringement report to the responsible company. There are no figures, but the committee estimates that the fine could be between a minimum of 225,000 euros and a maximum of 750,000 euros.

The committee also denounced “abuse of contracting” due to contracts that extended from Monday to Friday, were terminated on Saturday and Sunday, and were signed again on weekdays. The Inspection has also agreed with them, proceeding to discharge ex officio those who had linked contracts in this way. Workers will now be able to demand that the company pay them for those days of work. “The fake self-employed thing has stopped for now, but with the second they do it wrong again: now they also hire from Monday to Friday, but they include Monday and Tuesday afternoon as days of rest. That is to say, they miss a day of rehearsal, they work on Tuesday morning, they miss another rehearsal and on Thursday and Friday they have a concert,” they point out from the committee, who believe that all these formulas are used to save money “despite that the consortium has a surplus of two million euros because in recent years it has been left over.” The annual budget is around six million euros.

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