In 1913, sixteen to eighteen percent of all women over fourteen in and around Barcelona worked in textile factories and related industries. Spinning and weaving workshops usually employed fewer than 40 women and these women worked eleven to twelve hour days. In contrast, male workers usually worked only ten-hour days. Male wages varied between 3 and 3.75 pesetas while female wages were between 1.75 and 2.50 pesetas, with few women earning over 2. Some women worked from the home, manufacturing corsets, paper boxes, shoes, and garments for employers who provided them with piecework.
In May of 1940, the Netherlands was occupied by the Nazi war machine. At that time, the Netherlands had a total area of 33,000 square kilometers, and only approximately nine million people living there. The country was also relatively flat, with little natural features that could contribute to an armed resistance against the Nazis. The Netherlands had a policy of neutrality and had no recent experience with outside invading forces. In addition, Queen Wilhelmina and the Dutch royal family refused to accept the Nazi offer for protection under the Reich and instead fled to London.
When King Christian X of Denmark dismissed Prime Minister Zahle and his Radical Party Cabinet in late March 1920, the Socialists and Radicals, who held a political majority at the time, were furious. Although the King still had the right to do this under the Danish constitution, Denmark freely elected parliament members to the Folketing chamber of the Rigsdag (Parliament), who in turn determined the cabinet and no king had interfered with this process since the constitution was created in 1848.
During the 1950s, Honduras was characterized by a large gap between the few rich citizens and the many poor laborers. In 1952, Honduras held its first ever agrarian census. The wealthy landowners, who only consisted of 4.2 percent of the total population, owned an astonishing 56.8 percent of the arable land in Honduras. Meanwhile, the poor farmers of Honduras, who made up 65.1 percent of the population, only owned 15.7 percent of the arable land. To make matters worse, the wealthy landowners who possessed the majority of the land did not use it effectively.
As we come marching, marching, we battle too for men,
For they are women's children, and we mother them again.
Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes;
Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses!
- James Oppenheim (Used as the rallying cry for the movement)
In the southern Polish city of Kielce, in the late 2000s, a public bus company, MPK (Miejskie Przedsiębiorstwo Komunikacyjne), employed around 630 people and ran 160 buses regularly in the city. For several years, the company had been struggling to survive. It had been put under a traffic planning authority, ZTM, which controlled business operations and pushed it into debt. Working conditions were also unfavorable: wages were low, bus schedules didn't allow drivers regular breaks, and it became difficult for the company to hire new employees.
The Soviet forces that liberated Poland from Nazi occupation after World War II installed a government under which workers, employed by state-owned businesses, could not organize or represent themselves. During the 1970s, frustration with the one-party system grew and by the end of the decade, the Polish economy was near collapse.
On June 30, 1980, the government announced a 'reorganization of meat distribution' which resulted in an immediate 60% price increase and greater difficulty in obtaining meat.
The San Francisco general strike grew out of a coast-wide maritime strike in which ports up and down the west coast of the United States were closed by striking workers. While there were complaints about wages and working conditions, the strikers (headed by the International Longshoremen’s Association) were committed to workplace democracy, calling for worker control of unions and hiring and a coast-wide industrial organization inclusive of unskilled workers, skilled workers, and workers of all races and nationalities.
In the late 19th century, Russia’s autocracy, led by a Tsar (also czar), came under increasing attack. Alexander II was forced to liberate the serfs, but he was still assassinated in 1881 by a group called The People’s Will. His heir, Tsar Alexander III was badly shaken by this and launched a massive crackdown. In 1894, Nicholas II became Tsar and attempted to make a number of liberal reforms. For most, however, the reforms didn’t go far enough. In addition, a disastrous war with Japan from 1904-1905 shattered confidence in the Tsar’s ability to rule.
In 1946, a general strike in Dakar (with the exception of railway workers) guaranteed wage increases, family allowances for government workers, the recognition of unions, the expansion of wage hierarchies, and bonuses for seniority. In 1947, 164 cases of collective conflicts were reported to the Inspection du Travail; most dealt with wage disputes and were settled without incident. In that year, 133 unions in the public sector and 51 in the private had been recognized. The Fédération Syndicale des Cheminots (Railway Workers Union) was one of these autonomous and recognized unions.
Beginning in the year 1944, French West Africa experienced economic difficulties. Prices continued to augment, while salaries remained the same. This was complicated by the fact that insufficient sales (because of the poor salaries) also affected the wages of the workers. Wanting an increase in wages, on December 22, 1945, the workers of the ports of the French Company in the city of Dakar organized a strike. The workers from the printing shops of Dakar and the Senegalese electrical factory in Saint Louis joined in the strike.
The Seattle General Strike was the first general strike in the U.S. and marked the beginning of a post-WWI era of labor conflict.
The Asturian strikes that occurred in the summer of 1963 were the second major challenge to the Franco dictatorship over the span of one year. The first challenge had occurred in the spring of 1962 (see “Spanish coal miners challenge Franco dictatorship, 1962”). As with the strikes in 1962, the 1963 strikes began in the privately owned mines of Asturias during the last week of July 1963. In total, the miners’ executed their strike for 60 days, finally stopping the strike at the end of September. By the end about 40,000 to 50,000 workers had participated in the campaign.
The strikes in April and May of 1962 in Asturias (the coal mining center of Spain) were executed by the miners of Asturias and were a direct challenge to General Francisco Franco’s regime. Although the mines were privately owned and operated, the state dictated the wage rate and workers’ rights. The Spanish Communist Party played a significant role in the working class’s success against the fascist dictatorship. The “economic stabilization plan” created by the Franco government called for a wage freeze.
Zanzibar, a former colony of Great Britain, is an island off the coast of Tanzania, located in East Africa. Under British rule the population of Zanzibar was divided between small but influential groups of Arabs, Indians, and Europeans and the two larger, primary groups on the island: those Africans born on Zanzibar itself and those born on the mainland of Tanzania, who later immigrated.
Following World War I, Canada was suffering massive unemployment and inflation. A wave of unsuccessful strikes across Canada, the 1917 overthrow of the Tsarist regime in Russia, and the growth of revolutionary industrial unionism created an atmosphere of labor unrest in a country that had almost no labor regulations.
In March 1919, diverse labor leaders met in Calgary in Western Canada to discuss the creation of an industrial union to be called the One Big Union to work for higher wages, improved working conditions, official union recognition and collective bargaining.
In June of 1936, the national Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) formed the Steel Workers’ Organizing Committee (SWOC) to organize an industry that had traditionally been nonunionized. The goal of the organization was to get a signed contract and union recognition for workers at steel plants across the United States. From the outset, the steel industry, opposed to unionization, placed advertisements in newspapers nationwide against the unions to discourage their employees from getting involved.
In 1987, in order to cut costs, the Pittston Company chose to negotiate directly with the United Mine Workers Union (UMWA) at its own coal mines instead of with the Bituminous Coal Operators (BCOA) group which had previously regulated employees’ health and retirement packages. However, in 1988, the Pittston Company ceased contributing to a benefit trust it had established in 1950 for miners who had retired before 1974. This decision left between 1,500 and 1,700 retirees, widows, and disabled miners without healthcare. The company also doubled its healthcare deductibles and
In 2009, thirty-three stevedores were dismissed from their jobs in various ports throughout Finland, and by January of 2010, they still had not received sufficient compensation as reported by the Transport Worker’s Union (AKT). At the beginning of the month, the union began talks with the national employers to come to an agreement about severance pay and other issues such as wage increase and regulatory job protections; however, by mid-month the negotiations had slowed down to a near halt. The union threatened a 24-hour strike. On 21 January, they carried through on their promise.
Following the end of World War I, Trinidadians faced unfair labor policies and low wages. They also dealt with inflation and racism. Unhappy Trinidadians formed the Trinidad Workingmen’s Association (TWA) in response to the problems they faced. The TWA advocated for the working class in Trinidad and agitated for higher wages.
Gabon, a nation of 1.5 million people, is the sixth largest oil exporter in Africa. In 2008, the country was producing as many as 250,000 barrels of crude oil a day. Foreign investors included Royal Dutch Shell, Total, Tullow Oil Plc., and Canadian Natural Resources.
In May 2003, a breakdown in bargaining occurred between the Association of Faroese Trade Unions (Færøernes Arbejderforeninger) and the Federation of Faroese Employers (Færøernes Arbejdsgiverforening). The Association of Faroese Trade Unions represented five unskilled workers’ trade unions. Bargaining ended when the trade unions rejected a wage increase of 6.8% over the next two years. The trade unions wanted an 18% wage increase over the next two years, as well as an annual increase in early retirement payments. After a compromise could not be reached, 12,000 of the
Qatar is a small independent emirate in the Middle East, north of Saudi Arabia, that has been ruled by the Al-Thani family since the mid-1800s. Nearly 850,000 people are citizens of Qatar, though thousands more are immigrant workers, who make up three-quarters of the workforce. 96% of the population lives in the cities, and the most populated city is the capital city of Doha.
New Caledonia, a French territory in the South Pacific, contains approximately one quarter of the world's nickel resources, and the nickel mining industry has long been a central aspect of the small island's economy. In 2005, unions on the island caused repeated disruptions to the nickel supply chain, some in protest of working conditions, others as the result of a national divide between those who wanted further mineral resource development in the country’s north, and still others who wanted development to be focused in the south.
In 1959, French, British, Italian, and German interests established a mining and steel-making consortium- Societe Anonyme des Mines de Fer de Mauritanie (MIFERMA)- with the purpose of extracting and exporting resources from Mauritania. MIFERMA became a dominant force in Mauritania’s industrialization. International press celebrated the new iron ore mines as Mauritania’s entry into the 20th century.