La huelga de 1890. Rialia. Industria museoa.

The Great Strike of 1890

La Gran Huelga de 1890


The struggle to conquer the 8-hour workday, the 40-hour workweek, paid holidays, Sunday rest, the right to unemployment, social security, maternity leave, retirement pension, etc., has been a long and painful road.

On the left bank, in 1890, the daily working day was 12 to 16 hours, with wages that were barely allowed to live. Women and children, with lower salaries, replaced men in certain tasks. A majority were housed in barracks called “quarters”, where the number of beds was one for every two people and were run by mine foremen, as were the canteens in which they were forced to buy, with abusive prices and poor quality merchandise.

The general strike of 1890, known as the Great Strike, marked the beginning of the organised labour movement. It began on May 13 in the mines when 5 miners of the Orconera were fired. Nearly 15,000 people gathered from the factories on their way to Bilbao. The civilian governor declared a state of war and called in the army. General Loma arrived on May 15, visited the mining area, and met with the employers and a delegation of those on strike. Loma forced the employers, under the threat of withdrawing the army from the mines, to sign an agreement.

In the agreement they reached, known as the Loma Pact, freedom to choose housing was recognised, compulsory purchase in the canteens disappeared, and the working day became 11 hours in summer and 9 in winter. Other demands were left pending, such as the reduction of the working day to 6 hours for young people from 14 to 18 years; the uninterrupted rest of 36 hours; the prohibition of certain manufacturing systems harmful to health, etc.


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