How we went from working 100 hours a week to a 40-hour shift

It is possible that many hours at work are long and hard, especially if they work more than the eight regulations. But although 40 hours of work per week stipulated in the Workers’ Statute may seem many, that nobody should forget that not so long ago those hours were many more.

Because there was a time when work it was not regulated as it is now, and the workers obeyed what their bosses dictated, without stopping to think about whether it was fair, legal, etc. Even arriving to 100-hour work weeksWell, what it has been like to be working practically all day without any weekly rest.

And how did you get to achieve the eight hours of work a day? Thanks to the workers’ struggle, how topical is back in Cádiz. Let’s see how everything started to change.

Spain at the head of the world

Although it may surprise many, due to the delay that our labor market has compared to many countries in the world in many areas, was the first to give a decent working day to its citizens.

Specific, it was in 1919 when the Government, after the strikes started in Catalonia and the union pressure it had on it, when approved by law this 8-hour shift, which translates to 40 a week, with rest on Saturday and Sunday.

And it is that, before that, the usual days were 12 to 14 hours, with time basically to sleep and nothing else. But it was thanks to the strike called ‘La Canadiense’ how we got to what we have today. This strike was started by the workers of the electric operator Riegos y Fuerzas del Ebro, which was owned by the Canadian Bank of Commerce of Toronto, hence the name ‘La Canadiense’.

This electric fired eight workers for founding an independent union, which led his colleagues to strike as a protest against this decision of the company. The strike began on February 5, 1919 and lasted 44 days and was also joined by the workers of the company Energía Eléctrica de Cataluña, which resulted in in the arrest of 70% of the Catalan electricity sector.

In other words, the authorities realized how union action could harm the economic sector if their demands were not heeded. So that On April 3, 1919, the Government signed the decree by which the eight-hour day was established by law, Spain being the first country in the world to make it official.

It should be noted that we already had precedents. Well, in his day, King Philip II, at the end of the works of the Monastery of El Escorial, established by a Royal Edict set the eight-hour workday for construction workers. This edict said: “All the workers in the fortifications and factories will work eight hours a day, four in the morning and four in the afternoon; the hours will be distributed by the engineers according to the most convenient time, to avoid the workers the burning of the sun and allow them to take care of their health and their conservation, without missing their duties ”.

Therefore, Spain already had a tradition of labor rights and today it continues to do so.


Source: El Blog Salmón by www.elblogsalmon.com.

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