About five million feminist women went on strike Thursday and marched in Spain in support of an international call for strike led by women to mark International Women's Day and demand a just and egalitarian society.
The strike, besides not attending work, is boycotting consumption of commodities and household duties, inspired by the 1975 women's strike in Iceland, which had the aim of showing the essential and underrated role of women in society.
Women in Spain organized massive protests and traditional “piquetes,” the information brigades aiming to convince fellow workers of striking in support of the common struggle. They took to the streets and public squares making noise with pots and pans and chanting feminist workers' hymns.
At least one road was blocked by women carrying purple flags in Madrid and in Barcelona while riot police struggled to disperse a group of protesters also blocking a road.
Women bang pots and pans during a protest at the start of a nationwide feminist strike on International Women's Day at Puerta del Sol Square in Madrid, Spain, March 8, 2018. | Reuters
Supportive unions in Spain, such as General Work Confederation (CGT), Work National Coordinator (CNT) and Interunion Confederation (CI) called for a 24-hour general strike, while the government-aligned Laborers Commissions (CCOO) and General Workers' Union (UGT) propo|sed two 2-hour strikes during the day.
The difference in the proposals caused controversies regarding what is “allowed” during a day of protests. Two women were fired for supporting the 24-hour strike among their coworkers in Telemark.
Marta Valverde found out about the strike called for by the Work National Coordinator (CNT) and decided to spread the invitation to her fellow coworkers. She then sent an email to her superior in which she declared her intentions of taking part in the longer strike. Other workers, including Marta Hernando, supported her and decided to join as well.
A few days later the company fired both Hernando and Valverde, in an attempt to scare others away from such actions and avoid a larger scale protest.
They company said they were fired for “negligent attitude” and “not accomplishing goals,” without any kind of previous notice.
“We never thought they would take reprisals,” said Valverde. “Now, the rest of our coworkers that were thinking of supporting the strike won't do it out of fear.” Also Telemark, reportedly started to ask workers if they were thinking about taking part in the strike.
In Spain, women earn an average of 23 percent less than men, according to 2015 data of the National Statistics Institute (INE). The gap widens in “feminized” work positions such as administrative, cleaning and caring jobs, in which women earn about 66 percent of a man's income in the same position.