El Salvador Shoemakers win strike for higher wages, 1921

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Time Period:  
Time period notes: 
The strike took place during the Catholic celebration of Holy Week in 1921.
February 20
February 28
Location and Goals
El Salvador
Location City/State/Province: 
San Salvador
That their employers give them higher wages, put an end to arbitrary dismissals, and agree to treat their employees fairly.

Prior to 1919 in El Salvador, labor unions were virtually nonexistent and even as they formed, they were not recognized by the government until 1923 and 1924. Living and working under the oppressive Meléndez-Quiñónez regime (in power from 1913 to 1931) made organizing particularly challenging. So when labor movements did begin to arise, they came in waves with many different groups working at the same time. Among these groups were the Zapateros (shoemakers).

Before launching their strike, the guild of Zapateros discussed and established their list of grievances: (1) low wages, (2) hunger, (3) mass, unjustified dismissals, (4) personal abuse and mistreatment. With that, they were able to agree, over time, on a list of demands: (1) higher wages, (2) a stop to arbitrary dismissals, (3) fair treatment for employees.

In February of 1921, the Zapateros actualized their strike during the Catholic celebration of Holy Week. This week was chosen strategically because it is a time when shop owners prepare their storefront windows with displays of their nicest items to attract the passersby looking to purchase new outfits for the religious celebrations. By striking during Holy Week, the Zapateros drew much attention from their employers who were unable to supply new shoes to shopkeepers.

On 28 February, the Zapateros’ strike ended with the strikers walking away from negotiations triumphant.

After 1931, Miguel Mármol, who, at the age of sixteen, had assisted in organizing the Zapateros strike, became president of the Alianza Nacional de Zapateros (National Alliance of Shoemakers) which reached a national level.

Research Notes

Many labor organizers in El Salvador during this time period were heavily influenced by the Russian Revolution of 1917. (1)

Pullin, Lara. "Miguel Marmol Memorial Dinner." Green Left Weekly. N.p., 28 July 1993. Web. 01 Oct. 2012. <http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/5930>.

"Servicio Inormativo Ecuménico Y Popular SIEP." Servicio Inormativo Ecuménico Y Popular SIEP. Servicio Informativo Ecuménico Y Popular SIEP – El Salvador, n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2012. <http://www.ecumenico.org/article/resena-historica-de-la-izquierda-en-el-salvador/>.


Handal, Schafik J. "La Experiencia Del PCS, El Más Rico Patrimonio Político De La Clase Obrera Y Del Pueblosalvadoreño." Schafik Handal (1975): La Experiencia Del PCS, El Más Rico Patrimonio Político De La Clase Obrera Y Del Pueblo Salvadoreño. N.p., 28 Mar. 1975. Web. Sept.-Oct. 2012. <http://www.marxists.org/espanol/handal/1975/001.htm>.

Hernandez, Yolanda, Elsy L. Lopez, and Jennie Gonzalez. Derecho Colectivo De Trabajo Según La Legislación Laboral Salvadoreña. Contratos Colectivos De Trabajo. Universidad Francisco Gavidia, Mar. 2006. Web. 30 Sept. 2012. <http://wwwisis.ufg.edu.sv/wwwisis/documentos/TE/344.01-A536d/344.01-A536d.pdf>.

Woods, Alan. "La Revolución Salvadoreña [1]." La Revolución Salvadoreña [1]. Centro De Estudios Socialistas, 25 May 1982. Web. 30 Sept. 2012. <http://www.centromarx.org/index.php/documentos/historia/latinoamerica/el-salvador/96-la-revolucion-salvadorena-1>.

Pineda, Roberto. "Simpatizantes FMLN » LAS LUCHAS POPULARES DEL SIGLO XX EN EL SALVADOR." Simpatizantes FMLN » LAS LUCHAS POPULARES DEL SIGLO XX EN EL SALVADOR. N.p., 6 Apr. 2011. Web. 30 Sept. 2012. <http://www.simpatizantesfmln.org/blog/archives/3991>.

Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy: 
Patricia Gutierrez, 30/09/2012