H&M employees stage countrywide strike demanding increased wages, causing widespread store closures in Spain

H&M staff protest in front of a closed H&M store in Madrid, Spain, Monday, June 26, 2023, to demand better conditions in a physical retail environment.  (AP Photo/Paul White)

In Madrid, Spain, hundreds of retail workers participated in strikes against H&M Group, an international fashion company. The employees, who work at brands like H&M, Other Stories, and Cos, are seeking higher wages and protesting increased workloads due to pandemic-related layoffs. This series of strikes resulted in the closure of flagship stores in Madrid and demonstrates the impact of online sales on the retail industry.

Ángeles Rodríguez Bonillo, a union leader, highlighted the workers’ frustration with stagnant salaries and the high cost of living. Inflation rates have risen across Europe, with consumer prices in the European Union increasing by 7.1% in May. Despite Spain having one of the lowest inflation rates in the EU at 2.9%, workers across Europe are demanding higher wages to keep pace with rising living costs.

The strike in Spain follows failed negotiations between the main unions and H&M Group, leading to a series of strikes that began on June 20. Mediation efforts will begin this week, according to Rodríguez Bonillo.

Oliver Roethig, regional secretary of the European service workers union UNI Europa, highlighted the broader issue of H&M’s push towards precarious, part-time contracts. He stated that even in H&M’s home country of Sweden, workers are being forced into zero-hour contracts.

As of now, H&M Group has not responded to requests for comment.

 

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