Arbitrariness was the norm in terms of the amounts that the Castroverde investigated company paid in black to the caregivers, mostly Latin American immigrants, who worked without a contract or papers in private homes in the province of Lugo. Nor was there a scheduled schedule of schedules and releases. But there is a common denominator in the dozens of ’employees’ who were subjected to this alleged labor exploitation: the salaries were insulting and the working hours were marathon. One of the victims tells ABC: “I worked for almost a month and a half with them, and for everything I did they only paid me 325 euros.”

This young woman, of Colombian nationality, lived and worked in Switzerland, but had not quite adapted to the Central European country due to language issues.

That is why, when, through a contact, she found out that in Galicia – a place where she had never been – there was a company that gave jobs as caregivers to foreign people without having to have their situation regularized in Spain, she did not He didn’t hesitate for a moment. Thus, she contacted the person in charge of the Castroverde Assistance company, Montserrat L., who, according to her version, promised her that she would work as an intern caring for an elderly person. What she found when she arrived in Galicia, where she landed provisionally leaving behind her two children, 15 and 11 years old, was far from what was expected: “I felt cheated, they treated me fatally”, she tells this newspaper.

The nonsense began as soon as she set foot in the Santiago airport: the family that had to pick her up was delayed a couple of hours. And then, professionally, his work had little to do with the stability it presupposed: he was filling gaps, from family to family, replacing other employees, who, for whatever reason, were not available.

From that month and a half in which she worked for ‘Montse’, this young woman spent two weeks in a row, from Monday to Sunday, caring for a dependent person 24 hours a day. On another occasion, always according to her version, she had to do a twelve-hour shift to accompany a person who was hospitalized. For that day, specifically, she says that she only received 33.3 euros. Another of her destinations in that month and a half was a house where she had to attend to a young quadriplegic who needed a crane to get up. “I didn’t even know how the crane was used,” she tells this newspaper. In that house she only lasted one day. She assures that she was “treated fatally”, and when she told Montserrat L about her, she threatened to fire her. She didn’t pay him for the day either.

This young woman was in telephone contact with the person in charge of the company, but she never got to see her in person. “Yudith paid me,” she explains to ABC. Effectively. This woman was, supposedly, one of the four collaborators of Montserrat L. to capture undocumented immigrants –mostly Latin American women–, also taking charge of making the payments to the victims, in envelopes and in black. In total, the Court of Instruction 3 of Lugo investigates five people – including a daughter of the person in charge of the company, who is also in it, but with a contract – for alleged crimes of labor exploitation.

The investigation against the person in charge of Castroverde Assistance and her alleged collaborators began at the end of 2019, with the intervention of Montserrat L’s telephone. From the punctures, according to the Civil Guard, it appears that she paid miserable salaries “taking advantage of the situation of vulnerability, need economic situation and irregular stay» of the victims.

Although the investigation has been underway for more than two years, Asistencia Castroverde, which is in liquidation, is still listed in the Single Registry of Social Services Providers of the Xunta. From 2013 to 2019, the company from Montserrat L. managed the home help program of the Castroverde Council, and from 2019 to June 2020 it assumed the same program in Meira. In total, he provided 3,931 hours of service, according to the website of the Department of Social Policy. Asked by ABC, this department assures that at no time did they detect deficiencies – there was an inspection in 2021 that concluded without files – in the assistance service provided by the company and that no one informed them of the judicial investigation. The reports that the company presented to the Xunta in 2019 and 2020 are almost identical: a ‘cut and paste’, word for word, of page and a half. With the exception that in 2020 there is a slight allusion to Covid and also that “home assistants all have sufficient qualifications to perform the service.”