by Corina Ponce
MADRID (Reuters) – Dozens of Zara store workers protested outside the global fashion giant’s largest store in Madrid on Thursday to demand higher wages, and some workers in their hometown of northwestern Spain were forced to abandon their Black Friday sales. On the eve of the campaign, they went on strike.
Zara owner Inditex in February agreed to pay a one-time bonus of 1,000 euros ($1,041) to all full-time store employees in Spain, according to unions demanding better wages for their members in the face of soaring inflation. .
Inditex has offered to gradually increase monthly wages to around 200 euros by 2024, an offer that was accepted by Spain’s two largest trade union groups, the UGT and Comisiones Obreras, but rejected by protesters who demanded fewer doubloons in any case.
“Inditex is raising its prices and improving its profits, while workers’ wages are lagging,” said Anibal Maestro, a leader of the CGT union who convened the Madrid demonstration.
The protesters carried placards that read: “We made you a millionaire, you give us an unsustainable wage” and “I work for Inditex, but won’t work until the end of the month.”
Maestro said, “We want a real pay rise… not a $1,000 bonus in the form of candy.”
In the city of A Coruña, where the first Zara store opened in 1975, Inditex now has 44 stores. Two of them, a Zara store and a Massimo Dutti store, were closed on Thursday and some 1,000 shoppers prepared for a one-day strike the following day, Black Friday.
The monthly wages of shop assistants in Inditex stores in Madrid and A Coruña are below 1,400 euros, according to the unions.
This compares to about $2,000 for a warehouse worker, said Carmina Navairo, a union leader in A Coruña who has worked at Zara for more than two decades.
“If we don’t get better wages, we will have more protests in December and January,” he said.
Inditex employs 165,000 people in 177 countries. About 86% of the 6,477 stores are active.
($1 = 0.9603 euros)
(Reporting by Corina Pons, Editing by Andrei Khalip, Kirsten Donovan)