18 de novembre de 1949
De l’ambaixada britànica a Madrid al govern de Londres
[NA: FO 371/79680]
Report on a strike of textile workers in Barcelona.
Encloses a copy of a report received from Barcelona.
(Minutes: A pretty black story)
(…) This is the first report we have had of an organised protest of this kind against labour
conditions, and is interesting as an indication of the way in which troubles are handled by
Yours ever, Chancery.
Strike in a Barcelona cotton textile mill.
It has reported from a reliable source, which must not be compromised, that a two days’
strike, involving 2,000 employees, most of whom are women, occurred in the mill of
TRINXET INDUSTRIAL S.A., Santa Eulalia, 172, Barcelona. The dispute arose over an
increase in wages which the Delegado de Trabajo refused to sanction. The strike took place
on September 8th and 9th, and the premises were occupied by military from September 9th to
September 14th. The outcome was that no increases were granted and all the workers went
back to duty on September 15th, but they were fined one day’s pay and received no wages
for the period the factory was seized.
There has been a great deal of agitation by textile workers for an increase in wages since
the publication of the decree of 24th June de-controlling prices of finished textile goods.
This decree made no provisions for any increase in wages. This agitation came to a head
when workers in the dye-houses, of which there are a considerable number in Catalonia,
received an assurance by the Government that they would receive an increase.
As soon as this news was promulgated, the workers in the weaving plant of
MANUTACTURAS BALET & VENDRELL S.A., of Badal, 157, Barcelona, consisting of
about 500 women, on the advice of the Social Section of the Provincial Textile Syndicate
petitioned the management for an around increase of 100 Ptas a month per worker. The
management replied that they were prohibited by the Ministry of Labour to grant any
increases in wages. But after a threat of strike action, they agreed to an increase of Ptas 50
a month per worker, to distribute one share of dress-making cloth to each female worker
three times a year and to increase food rations.
The news of this wage increase then precipitated a similar demand from the workers of
TRINXET INDUSTRIAL S.A., who are cotton weavers. (…) The Delegado de Trabajo
suggested that the weavers join forces with the dye-houses and put up a concerted plan for
wage increase to the Ministry of Labour. He promised to endorse this plan.
(…) the management of TRINXET received the workers’ representatives and explained that
they were no t permitted to take an independent course of action in the question of wage
increases and that a proposal for a general increase was being submitted to the Ministry.
The workers’ committee then intimated that, unless their demands were met, they would be
powerless to hold back the mass of the workers who were threatening strike action.
On the morning of September 8th, the strike commenced. The machines were started, cut the
workers refused to operate them. The strike spread to the afternoon shift and continued on
Friday morning. A meeting was then called at noon, on September 9th, by the Delegado de
Trabajo, who addressed the workers and explained the position to them. He stated that,
unless all workers returned to duty by 4:00 p.m., Government troops would occupy the
premises, and threatened that, unless all strike activities cessed immediately, all would be
dismissed. He labelled the strike movement as “anti-governmental”.
But it was obvious to the Delegado de Trabajo that the use of troops to oust 2,000 women
would give rise to an extremely serious social and political problem in the area. He
therefore ordered the management to pay, on the afternoon of Saptember 9th, the second
shift their wages for the week. This gave the workers the impression that the Delegado de
Trabajo had been bluffing and that the strike was won, and confident of victory thay left at
the end of the second shift at 11:00 p.m. At midnight, troops occupied the premises and told
the management to close the factory. Notices were nailed tp the plant entrances stating that
“as the workers had continued their anti-Government conduct, they were all dismissed with
the total loss of their rights and that the plant had been seized by military forces”.
The works remained under military occupation over the week-end. On Monday, September
the 12th, blank lists were posted at factory entrances to be filled in by allm workers who
whished to enrol anew in TRINXET, but, by the end of the day, only two workers had
enrolled.The next day the workers’ committee requested a meeting with the Delegado de
Trabajo, who refused unless all the workers filled in the posted lists. The committee replied
that they could not force their fellow workers to do this. However, on Wednesday, the 14th,
a meeting was held, attended by the Chief of the Social section of the Provincial Textile
Syndicate, and it was agreed that all workers could return to work without loss of seniority
rights, etc., but that they would be fined one day’s pay each and that they would receive no
pay for the period of September 8th to the 14th. Normal working operations began at
TRINXET INDUSTRIAL the following day.
As a result of this strike, the Balet & Vendrell labour management agreement was made
void and the firm fined Ptas. 180,000.
There is no evidence whatsoever of political influence behind the strike movement, which
was dictated purely by economic necessity of the workers.
1. Surten victoriosos d’aquesta vaga, els treballadors? Per què?
2. Quin mètode fa servir l’autoritat del govern, en aquest cas el
delegado de trabajo?
3. Qui no acceptava augmentar els salaris dels treballadors, els
amos o el govern de Franco?
4. Quines diferències trobes amb com es resoldria aquesta situació
en una democràcia?