H&M workers in Spain and their unions CCOO Servicios and FESMC-UGT have initiated a major strike action. Frustrated by months of unsuccessful negotiations with the company, employees have taken a decisive step towards demanding better working conditions and fairer wages. As the two-day strike commences today, we shed light on the challenges faced by the H&M workforce in Spain.
After enduring months of negotiations aimed at securing improved working conditions and fairer wages, H&M workers in Spain were met with a disappointing proposal from the company. Described as “insufficient and very unspecific,” this response left the employees with little choice but to take action. Through their unions, they collectively organised work stoppages, resulting in disruptions at an estimated 100 H&M stores across the country.
Massive day of action for H&M workers across Spain tomorrow.
— UNI Europa (@UNI_Europa) June 21, 2023
At the heart of the workers’ discontent lies a range of pressing concerns. The H&M workforce in Spain is plagued by excessive workloads, exacerbated by a high proportion of part-time employees who earn low wages. Additionally, due to the existence of provincial agreements that differ substantially from one another, there is a lack of uniformity and fairness in the compensation and benefits received by workers across the country.
On Tuesday morning, H&M workers staged partial work stoppages from 11:00 to 13:00, and in the evening from 20:30 to 22:30, as a precursor to the upcoming two days of strike. The work stoppages were highly successful and resulted in the disruptions in approximately 100 shops. Today is the first of two initial 24-hour strikes, the next being Monday 26 June. By disrupting operations, they aim to send a clear message to H&M management: change is long overdue, and their voices must be heard.
“H&M is a huge employer across the whole of the European Union. From Sweden to Spain, we are seeing that they are adopting a more conflictual approach to labour relations recently. Workers and their unions will not allow management to cut hours and normalise low pay in a bid to divert income away from workers and towards profits. We urge management to rethink their approach,” said Oliver Roethig, Regional Secretary of UNI Europa.
The strike has garnered significant support from unions from other companies and industries across Spain. The resilience and determination displayed by the H&M employees have served as a rallying point, highlighting the need for fair treatment and better working conditions throughout the country’s workforce. Their courage in standing up for their rights is an inspiration to others who face similar challenges. As the European federation for H&M workers, UNI Europa backs their call to H&M management for meaningful negotiations to address the workers’ grievances.