ELCHE city hall is having little luck in engaging professional Palmeros to lop local palms using traditional methods.
After advertising four posts on a 12-month contract with Labora, the region’s official employment office, only two applicants were engaged as Palmeros although another two will be employed in city hall’s Parks and Gardens department, Human Resources councillor Ramon Abad announced.
Although his department received 16 CVs, only two candidates were sufficiently skilled at climbing palm trees to lop branches using the traditional – and rudimentary – marcola.
This occupation recently received Asset of Cultural Interest (BIC) status under a new law and has also been taught for some years at local high schools including La Torreta.
But at present, local government sources revealed, the only option is outsourcing some pruning operations although this alternative can be risky, as a private company from Murcia contracted to lop the 8,000 palms last year used chainsaws. Operatives also damaged several trees in Calle Pedro Juan Perpiñan.
Unions, palmeros and groups including the Volem Palmerar, the Palm Forest defence group, and Elche city hall itself agreed that outsourcing was not the answer. Instead, the government decided to reinforce the workforce although this has proved more difficult than anticipated.