Preferred Citation: Seidman, Michael. Workers Against Work: Labor in Paris and Barcelona during the Popular Fronts. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1991 1991.

Workers’ Resistance

6. Workers’ Resistance

As we have seen, the prerevolutionary Barcelona working class was extremely combative. Before the outbreak of the civil war, the workers frequently went on strike—sometimes with violence, sabotage, and work slowdowns—over demands that included a shorter working day, higher wages, end to piecework, and defense of traditional holidays. Despite an economic crisis, the workers were generally successful in defending their living standards; they demonstrated a remarkable ability to win many of their claims.

When the unions took control of the factories, the traditional working-class demands did not cease, and many wage earners continued to ask for more pay and persisted in their attempts to avoid constraints of factory space and time. The CNT and UGT militants who ran the collectives opposed many of the workers’ desires that they had once supported; in the difficult times of war and Revolution, they called for more work and sacrifice. Rank-and-file workers frequently ignored these calls and acted as though the union militants were the new ruling elite. Direct and indirect resistances to work became major points of conflict between the base and the militants, just as they had been when the bourgeoisie controlled the productive forces. In Barcelona and in Paris, industrial managers of various political convictions were compelled to confront this aspect of working-class culture.

The rank and file’s continuing exactions and actions revealed the productivist assumptions of anarchosyndicalist and Marxist theories of autogestion. Without changing the nature of the factory itself or by merely rationalizing it, anarchosyndicalists and Marxists called on workers to participate and control their workplace. Union activists were asking workers to endorse enthusiastically their role as workers. In effect, given the content of the militants’ project for the development and rationalization of the means of production, workers were being pressured to participate willingly in their own bondage as wage earners. It is hardly surprising that many of them were reluctant to take part in the developmental democracy of the Spanish Revolution, and it is little wonder that union militants often lamented the unattended factory assemblies and unpaid union dues.

Union activists did attempt to satisfy one persistent rank-and-file desire. At the beginning of the Revolution, the CNT union of the textile and garment industry carried out a demand that it had been making for years: the abolition of production incentives, especially piecework—“the principal cause of the miserable conditions” of the workers, according to the union.[1] The UGT too had condemned piecework and had asked the government to do away with it. Yet the abolition of piecework soon came under attack by the Confederación itself:

In the industrial branches that were in our [CNT] union and where before 19 July a great amount of piecework prevailed, now that there is a fixed weekly salary, productive output has declined.

With all this, there is nothing to give our economy a firm base, and we hope that all workers…will use with the maximum care tools and raw materials, and will give their maximum productive output.[2]

The Casa Girona offered one of the most significant and spectacular examples of the problems of workers’ control in the Spanish Revolution. Casa Girona, also known as Material para ferrocarriles, employed eighteen hundred workers and was one of the most important metallurgical factories of Barcelona. It had made railroad equipment before the Revolution, and after July 1936 it produced war materiel.[3] A report by the CNT-controlled factory council of Casa Girona to the CNT Metallurgical Union of Barcelona declared that costs before 19 July 1936 had been 31,500 pesetas and had increased to 105,000 pesetas. Charges for the retired personnel rose from 688 pesetas before 19 July to 7,915; for accidents from 950 pesetas to 5,719; for the sick from 0 to 3,348. Weekly payroll costs jumped from 90,000 to 210,000 pesetas. With all these cost increases a “rather intense production” was expected and needed. However, the factory council stated, production had actually diminished despite greatly improved benefits and an increase in the number of workers from the prerevolutionary total of thirteen hundred to eighteen hundred.

Girona’s factory council did not believe that lengthening the working day would solve the problem since it had already added eight hours per week to the schedule; the additional time had not only failed to increase production but had not even succeeded in stopping its decline. Thus, despite a 38 percent increase in personnel, a 233 percent increase in benefits, a 133 percent rise in weekly paychecks, production declined 31 percent. The council suggested certain “practical” measures to correct the situation: “To establish a war bonus that will be adjusted to completed production [italics in original].” According to the management of Girona, no other solution was possible, since pay increases and the establishment of minimum production levels had failed. The council asked the Metallurgical Union for authorization to establish the bonus and to initiate “rigorous control” through its production committee and engineers. The council denied that its proposals meant a return to the “old times of exploitation” since “the prices of all work will be agreed upon by those who manage and those who execute.” Workers whose work was superior must be rewarded. If not, the council argued, initiative would be discouraged.

A commission that the administrative board of the CNT Metallurgical Union delegated to investigate the “abnormalities” at Casa Girona confirmed the Girona factory council’s difficulties. The investigators reported that a worker who received 18 pesetas produced 30 pieces, whereas an apprentice who received only 5 pesetas produced 80 pieces in the same time. According to the commission, the workers themselves had agreed with the factory council to establish a system of piecework. The commission concluded that the new system of production incentives clashed “fundamentally…with our most intimate convictions” because the CNT had always fought against piecework. Yet the workers were carried away by their “egoistic instincts” and (the commission claimed) egged on by Communist and UGT agitators. The commission declared despondently that Casa Girona would not be the last case where production necessities would contradict “our ideas of equality and liberty.” It attacked the “un[class-]conscious and irresponsible” workers who refused to produce without a monetary incentive and judged that the Girona council was justified in establishing piecework since “[class-]conscious workers” were a minority in the factory.

Although it received scant mention in the press, the case of Casa Girona created a dramatic debate within the CNT. In a meeting of officials of the Metallurgical Union on 27 May 1937, its president, Rubio, declared that in a war and Revolution workers must work until exhaustion.[4] A prominent militant, Gómez, disagreed: he supported the forty-hour week in Casa Girona and rejected additional hours. In another meeting on 1 June, President Rubio stated that producers could not enjoy the Revolution during the Revolution; he attacked advocates of the forty-hour week in Girona and argued in favor of a longer workday in the war industry. According to Rubio, supporters of the forty-hour week in Girona “have been scabs and think only of their stomachs and nothing more.” Gómez, champion of the forty-hour week, resigned in protest. He declared that he had seen the discontent among Girona workers, and that they could not produce because of apathy and physical and moral fatigue. Yet the workers were still sacrificing, according to Gómez. He protested that certain privileged persons were receiving several thousand pesetas per month. The bars of Barcelona were still full, the Ramblas (a main thoroughfare) was crowded, and “millions of slackers and idlers” were loitering in the city. He demanded CNT action to stop such abuses. If the CNT put the malingerers to work and granted the forty-hour week in Girona, these admittedly “un[class-]conscious” workers would zealously defend the Revolution to preserve their gains. The debate between Gómez and the union’s president ended in a compromise that both criticized the attitude of workers in Casa Girona and condemned the alleged conspiracy of political parties against the CNT’s revolution. It asked Gómez to change his attitude and rejoin the union and requested Rubio to continue as president. The resolution concluded that “socialization,” that is, control by a CNT union of concentrated firms and collectives, would be the “salvation of our social and economic achievement.”

Similar problems in other industries—whether controlled by CNT or UGT—nonetheless showed that neither Communist nor UGT agitators were primarily responsible for low output and productivity. One CNT militant in the Loaders’ Section lamented that “production was 50 percent of what it should be” and complained that the section did not possess sufficient coercive powers to improve output.[5] For several months the slow workpace continued to cause damage to perishable fruits, and militants criticized the rank and file for lacking “union and revolutionary spirit.” At a private meeting of UGT railroad officials, one militant insisted that a forty-eight-hour week with Saturdays off was in effect at the branch in San Andrés, a Barcelonan suburb, but “the number of machines repaired is smaller than before the Revolution.”[6] An office workers’ petition, eventually withdrawn, to restore the six-hour day that existed before the Revolution, demoralized Communists.[7] Thus, the declaration of the CNT Metallurgical Union at Casa Girona, which blamed Communists for its production problems, reduced complex industrial and social difficulties to a rather simplistic political level. Except for changes in the industrial decision-making process that the theory of autogestion introduced, neither the CNT nor the UGT provided an alternative model to develop the productive forces. When the unions were faced with industrial problems such as poor productivity and workers’ indifference, they were forced to tie pay to output, just as the capitalists had done.

Problems over piecework persisted throughout the Revolution. The tailoring collective F. Vehils Vidal, with over four hundred fifty workers who made and sold shirts and knitwear, imposed, as early as February 1937, an elaborate system of incentives to stimulate its personnel.[8] In October 1937 the Casa Alemany, which received heavy orders for pants and other articles, subcontracted at piecework rates.[9] In May 1938 Barcelona railroad workers were notified of the nearly total reestablishment of piecework:

The orders of the managers must be obeyed.

The workers will receive a reasonable rate per piece. They must not forget the basic rule of collaboration and must not try to deceive the management.

A list of work accomplished…must be presented monthly, and it must be accompanied by a report that compares the results obtained with those of previous months and justifies work outputs and variations.[10]

In the construction industry, the technical-administrative council of the CNT Building Union proposed in August 1937 a revision of anarchosyndicalist salary leveling.[11] The council posed the following dilemma: either we restore work discipline and abolish the unified salary or we encounter disaster. The council recognized bourgeois influences among the workers and called for the reestablishment of incentives for technicians and professionals. In addition, it recommended that only “profitable (rentable) works” be undertaken: “The masses must be reeducated morally” and their work remunerated according to effort and quality. In July 1937 a joint declaration by the CNT-UGT Construction Amalgamation of Barcelona agreed that pay should be tied to production: “In case of the nonfulfillment of the minimum [output] by a comrade, he will be penalized and then expelled if he repeats his error.”[12] The CNT-UGT report recommended the posting of graphs on output as well as propaganda to raise morale and increase productivity. It determined that low output often resulted from construction workers’ fears of layoffs after the termination of a project.

Both publicly and privately the UGT advocated that salaries be linked to output and that sanctions be imposed on offenders. The UGT Masons’ Union reported on 20 November 1937 that a pay dispute in the Construction Amalgamation had led to a work stoppage and even sabotage. It also noted that other workers did not want to work because they were not receiving 100 pesetas per week. The Masons’ Union called the attitude of these workers “disastrous and out of place in these moments.”[13] On 15 December it stated that lower-paid workers wanted to equalize their salaries and that it was discussing with the CNT how to establish minimum outputs. On 1 February 1938 the UGT told its members not to make demands in wartime and urged workers to work more.[14]

The conflicts in the construction industry revealed that the rank and file continued to press wage demands as they had done before the Revolution. Wartime inflation certainly aggravated workers’ wage demands, as wholesale prices increased more than two and one-half times during the war.[15] Certain collectives and industries did benefit from the inflationary economy. Brick, cement, and transportation firms were overbilling, complained the Construction Amalgamation, and it demanded guarantees that all work proceed normally and that prices correspond to normal outputs.[16] Most workers, though, were penalized by the price hikes. At the end of 1936 and at the beginning of 1937, women demonstrated against the shortage of bread. Other demonstrators continued the Barcelonan tradition of popular seizure of food supplies. On 6 May 1937, “a large group of women descended on the port of Barcelona where they looted a number of vans filled with oranges.”[17] Furthermore, basic foodstuffs were rationed, and householders were forced to spend time in long lines. By 1938 milk, coffee, sugar, and tobacco were in short supply. No deaths from hunger were reported in 1936 and only 9 in 1937, but in 1938 the figure rose to 286.[18] Enterprises and unions established cooperatives or continued company stores to save workers time and money. Yet an explanation of salary conflicts based solely on physical or economic needs is inadequate; any analysis must include an examination of the problematic social relations between the workers and the directors of the collectivized and controlled firms. These new industrial managers, who were usually technicians or union militants, were continually beseeching the rank and file not to demand wage hikes during the difficult times of war and revolution, but their pleas for more work and sacrifice were frequently ignored in various industrial sectors.

For instance, CNT and UGT members of the Control Committee of gas and electricity encountered a serious problem early in the Revolution, and considerably before the May Days of 1937. On 3 December 1936 rank-and-file workers of this industry began collecting signatures demanding a joint CNT-UGT assembly to solicit the year-end bonus.[19] The reaction of the Control Committee was angry. One member qualified the petition as “counterrevolutionary and fascist” and asked that those who had signed it be locked up. UGT and CNT committee members alike feared that the proposed assembly would not only claim the annual bonus but might raise the potentially embarrassing question of salary differences among workers, technicians, and administrators. One Control Committee member declared that the “unions exist to direct and channel the aspirations of the masses”; others concluded that an assembly must be avoided at all costs. Some feared that in an assembly the three hundred who signed the petition demanding more money could easily be joined by another two thousand or even four thousand workers. A certain García stated, “Either we have no authority over the masses or we impose it on them.” The meeting finally agreed to pay the bonus to avoid the assembly. Members were requested not to discuss the meeting with outsiders since the committee wished to learn who had initiated and agitated for the petition in order to take possible punitive measures against them.

An equally dramatic debate occurred in the Cros Collective, whose review, Síntesis, frequently told workers to postpone their demands for salary increases and vacations. Not all workers followed Síntesis’s advice. On 30 June 1937 the collective and its associated unions—representatives of the collective’s offices and factories in Alicante, Lérida, Valencia, and Barcelona as well as delegates of fourteen different UGT and CNT unions—met in Barcelona to discuss a petition from sailors and ships’ technicians in the CNT and UGT maritime unions. The workers demanded back pay for overtime and work on Sundays and holidays performed for the Cros Company from November 1935 to 19 July 1936.[20] In other words, the sailors wanted back pay for work done before Cros had been collectivized. Both the CNT and the UGT National Federations of Chemical Industries opposed the sailors’ claim, but they hoped for a compromise since many other sailors had received back pay. Other delegates resisted a compromise because of the needs of the war and those of the collective itself.

During the meeting, tension flared when a sailors’ representative, frustrated by the long discussion, stated that if the assembly was not in a hurry to achieve a solution, the sailors were: a ship was scheduled to sail shortly. Delegates interpreted the statement as a threat, and the president of the assembly warned that the meeting could not be coerced. Other delegates criticized the sailors for threatening to strike and for their “indiscipline.” A representative from Alicante noted that workers in his factory had been hungry but had still sacrificed for the good of the collective. The Badalona delegate protested the sailors’ demands and argued that they should not treat the collective like “bourgeois” since all agreements had been adopted by majority vote. He insisted that no accord could be reached until the sailors’ representatives ceased threatening to strike. The UGT maritime delegate replied that he was not aware of any strike threat. His CNT counterpart declared that all the sailors wanted for risking their lives at sea was fair and equal treatment. Another participant replied that the collective had always given the highest consideration to its sailors but that on occasion the sailors had refused to sail if their demands were not met and that the factory council had been forced to accede. Finally, the assembly accepted a proposal that delayed a solution to the problem of back pay until economic conditions permitted. In other collectives, workers’ long memories posed problems for the new managers who had to decide about the rehiring and back pay for those fired during the bienio negro or even as early as 1919.

Another full session of the representatives of unions and factories of the Cros Collective debated the question of a 15 percent salary increase for workers at its Barcelonan factory. The local CNT and UGT chemical unions of Barcelonan had previously supported the wage claims of their workers and had even threatened to shut down the plant if salary hikes were not granted. The director of the Barcelonan factory and officials from other factories and unions urged the Barcelonan unions to oppose the increases that, even if justified, endangered the “new economy.” The president of the assembly declared that the Barcelonan workers, like the sailors, were trying to win augmentations with coercive methods. He asserted that it was not the time to make demands; workers should not create new problems for their councils, which they themselves had elected. The president believed that he could permit only transitional cost-of-living increases, but that this concession did not mean the right to make further demands. When the central office of the collective presented a proposal arguing against the augmentations, the Barcelonan factory’s delegates then threatened to leave the assembly. The delegation from Madrid responded that it was shameful to lose time in “such materialist” debates when there were great tasks to accomplish. Subsequently, the pay hike for the Barcelonan plant was voted down by all except the factory concerned, and the president reminded Barcelona’s delegation of its wartime obligations. The debates over raises for the Barcelonan workers and back pay for the sailors demonstrated that the threat of strikes and actual strikes were present during the Spanish Revolution.

The constant demands of the workers, which began very early in the Revolution, frustrated the union leaders. In November 1936 the work of cleaners employed by the railroad reflected their dissatisfaction with their salaries; according to one member of the UGT council, “the cleaners had always met the wagons and discharged the toilets. Now in many cases they do not.”[21] They and other indisciplined workers had accepted tips, a practice that had been banned in this and other enterprises. Some railroad employees, such as cooks, resisted working on hospital trains. Members of the council asserted that most of the personnel lacked “goodwill,” which committee members thought they had earlier demonstrated by working in the medical cars. The cleaners continued to complain frequently about their salaries and were eventually rewarded back pay.

Although the CNT-UGT unions of the amalgamated power industry agreed that demands for more pay and fewer hours “should not be discussed now,” they had to confront workers from some poorer companies who felt that their salaries and work schedule should equal those of their colleagues from more privileged firms.[22] To protest what they considered an unfair system of salary classification, employees of the power industry seem to have engaged in an organized slowdown strike in which they performed morning work in the afternoon.[23] In a meeting of the CNT Metallurgical Union on 3 July 1937, a militant exhorted “our comrades” to become “idealist” and cease being “materialist.” Several months earlier, the Metallurgical Union had concluded that higher living costs necessitated a sal-ary increase, but it had hoped that the raises might end the “malaise” and keep order in the factories.[24]

Workers sometimes demanded pay for volunteer work or refused to sacrifice for the war effort. The UGT Sindicato de vestir had requested four men and women to collect clothes for the troops. The volunteers did not “understand” that they would not be remunerated for their services and demanded their wages.[25] The MZA Central Committee suspended seven volunteers, sent to unload coal at the French border, who abandoned their posts because of an argument over meals.[26] Although some did sacrifice for the front by making clothes for soldiers or by donating money to the injured, others were reluctant to be taxed for the war. The CNT Graphic Arts Union dispatched a functionary to the well-known publishing house of Seix y Barral to ensure that the personnel paid the 5 percent contribution to the militias. The CNT sindicato promised to investigate other noncontributors.[27] In January 1937 when workers of a jewelry collective were informed that they were required to give 5 percent of their salary to the militia, they “refused to work overtime.”[28] The union responded by rejecting any pay increase.

Wage conflicts were far from the only manifestation of workers’ discontent: the unions were also forced to confront major problems of absenteeism and lateness, phenomena that have existed in varying degrees throughout the history of labor. In the nineteenth century, Catalan workers, like their French counterparts, sustained the tradition of “dilluns sant” (Holy Monday), an unofficial and unauthorized holiday that many workers took to prolong their Sunday break. In the twentieth century, the largely dechristianized and anticlerical Catalan working class continued to respect traditional interweekly religious holidays. During the Revolution the anarchosyndicalist and Communist press often criticized the workers’ adamant defense of these traditions; Solidaridad Obrera and Síntesis proclaimed that the traditional religious holidays must not be an excuse to miss work. Some unions prohibited the celebration of interweekly fiestas. An initiative from local committees of the power industry forbade Christmas vacations in 1936 but retained New Year’s Day as a fiesta.[29] The observance of religious holidays during the working week (observers never noted Barcelonan workers in significant attendance at Sunday mass) along with absenteeism and lateness indicated workers’ con-tinuing dislike of the factory, however rationalized or democratic. These acts of avoiding wage labor perhaps revealed a deeper detachment from the ideals of the Spanish Revolution than did struggles over salary issues.

Long and heated debates occurred concerning how—and if—vacations should be organized and paid.[30] Many wage earners seem to have been determined not to miss summer vacations in 1936 and 1937 regardless of the political and military situation.[31] Several weeks after the pronunciamiento, the Control Committee of gas and electrical industries decreed that 15 August would not be a holiday. In 1937 as the summer approached, some unions prohibited vacations entirely.[32] In many collectives Saturday labor was highly unpopular. In November 1937 the UGT condemned the indiscipline of a number of railroad workers who refused to work Saturday afternoon.[33] A CNT union penalized three loaders who had continually rejected Saturday work with the loss of ten days’ pay and, significantly, of fifteen holidays.[34] One militant added that the penalty for pilfering should be working six Saturdays. Women laboring in CNT offices ignored its slogan, During war there are no holidays, and militants felt compelled to take disciplinary action against a female typist who refused to work on Sunday; they feared that if the offender was not disciplined, “many [women] comrades would miss Sunday work.”[35] The famous days of May 1937 offered some wage earners an unexpected vacation before the CNT and the UGT campaigned vigorously for an immediate return to work.

Sickness multiplied the number of workdays missed. In construction many comrades were often “ill.” The CNT Technical Commission of Masons noted “the irresponsibility of certain workers. We refer to those who fake illnesses and do not work, thus causing heavy economic damages to our collectives.”[36] The commission was astonished at the “astuteness and the wickedness of the unscrupulous workers” who invented all kinds of strategies to get sick pay. It singled out one case where a worker certified as an epileptic was surprised by a visit of members of the Technical Commission while he was gardening. This and other types of deceit “seriously threatened” the commission’s social policies; it demanded a “crusade” by union delegates “to radically stamp out the abuses.” Another technical commission, that of the CNT woodworkers, established a Committee on the Sick that required a worker to visit one of its physicians in order to obtain sick pay. It also alerted “union delegates and workers in general” to watch out for abuses. The CNT mutual did catch one woodworker who, continuing the tradition of self-inflicted wounds, had provoked an infection in his index finger. In November 1937 militants of the UGT Masons’ Union claimed that, in addition to the excess of personnel, lack of credits, and transportation difficulties, an important reason for the “failure” of the Construction Amalgamation was the “excessive sum of pesetas paid to the ill.”[37] The Executive Committee of the UGT federation in Barcelona confirmed these findings:

[there were] many abuses regarding sicknesses since factory councils did not institute a severe control. Control is difficult because the presumed sick person often had a close relationship with the members of his committee. However, if the workers were insured by a firm, which would carefully watch the situation, this fraud might be avoided. It was agreed to consult with the comrades of the insurance union about this.[38]

Among loaders and stevedores, abuses by accident victims resulted in a heavier payment to the workers’ mutual. One loader, who had been hospitalized for almost a year, was able to save a significant sum from his pension.[39] The assembly urged the Control Committee to take measures to ensure that physically capable workers labored. The committee’s effectiveness was doubtful, since several months later a militant denounced workers who had been absent for several days but appeared on Saturday to pick up their paychecks. In December 1936 a prominent militant of the Tinsmiths’ Union complained of the “abnormalities committed in almost all workshops with respect to illnesses and [work] schedules.” In January 1937 another tinsmith noted “licentiousness” in several workshops: “There are many workers who miss a day or a half-day because it suits them and not because of illness.”[40] In February 1937 the CNT Metallurgical Union declared frankly that some workers were taking advantage of work accidents.[41]

In this context the physician, ignored by historians, became a major figure of the Spanish Revolution. In the early months, some committees replaced individual company physicians but by no means eliminated their supervisory role. The revolutionary managers of the electric and gas industries urged that the Physicians’ Union immediately remove a doctor whom the personnel distrusted; his replacement would have to “make house calls to verify the illnesses of those treated by other physicians.”[42] Many unions and collectives reserved the right to mandate their own medical personnel to examine sick workers. One collective required that victims of work accidents immediately inform the physician of its insurance company.[43] Physicians had the power not only to excuse absenteeism but also to demand less difficult tasks for their patients. Their medical experts served to judge if control committees and other bodies were guilty of favoritism in granting sick leave.

Yet physicians were not all paragons of revolutionary virtue. A number sympathized with the military rebellion, and others took advantage of their position. The UGT clinic reported a series of abuses: the sick were badly treated, nurses were “coerced,” milk destined for patients was consumed by others, and the official car was used for personal purposes.[44] Among railroad workers, although the number of injured had declined, their compensation had grown. The union delegate blamed “this irregularity on the lack of a spirit of sacrifice among the personnel, but much more on the indifference of the physicians, who do not do their duty. In many cases, the injured receive the entire weekend off.”[45] To end the abuses of some, the militants decided to increase the surveillance of the sick. The Communist cell agreed to warn physicians that unless they became stricter, they would be dismissed. It decided furthermore that only a physician who was unknown to the workers was qualified to judge “the dubiously ill.”

Tobacco and alcohol, subjects of reprobation in socialist realist posters, contributed to the loss of worktime. Early in the Revolution, employees and security guards of the Barcelona newspaper La Vanguardia would meet to drink and gamble during working hours. A militant from the CNT Metallurgical Construction Union complained that workers abandoned their jobs to get cigarettes. After many warnings, the Central Committee punished a porter who was often drunk on the job by transferring him to another, perhaps harder, post for two months.[46]

The confused situation of war and revolution could provide a good cover for absenteeism. Control committees became skeptical when workers claimed that the “events” of July 1936 prevented them from returning to their jobs. An executive of Solidaridad Obrera warned that without the authorization of the CNT regional committee, those who were absent from work would not be paid. The managing committee of the power industry planned to examine “an infinity of cases of duplicity.”[47] Militiamen, who had been employed by the power companies, ignored a notice published in the newspapers asking them to return to their jobs. Furthermore, militants complained that many militiamen remained in the rear. Railroad managers dismissed a number of workers for what the union committee judged unauthorized absences; in turn the workers became distrustful of their committee, which, they suspected, wanted to encourage their enlistment in the armed forces as a way of reducing payroll costs.[48]

In addition to absenteeism, sabotage and theft—implying a great distance from the libertarian or communist principles of cooperation in production—continued during the Spanish Revolution. Sabotage was often defined in the broadest terms:

Leaving before the finishing time.…Complaining violently.…Taking holidays without reason. Finishing a job and not asking for more work. Waiting on customers impolitely. Eating during working hours. Talking. Distracting other workers.…Telephoning or receiving telephone messages that are not urgent. Workers who commit these infractions will lose one day’s pay.[49]

A prominent CNT journalist from Madrid assessed the situation.

You can find comrades who do not know how to measure the value of things and carelessly permit them to be wasted.…Others, who are aware of and able to help the cause of antifascism, criminally tolerate the employers’ sabotage for a guaranteed wage. They do not care if the machines are working or not as long as they get paid every Saturday. If they can eat, they don’t give a damn if others lack the necessities.

Some act equally badly when they take over an industry and live off its capital. Others reduce the workweek so that no comrade remains unemployed. They labor maybe one whole day per week and then raise prices seven- or tenfold to maintain their wages.[50]

Given the shortages of gasoline and auto parts, a Central Committee charged that local committee members who used cars for unneeded trips were guilty of “sabotage” and might be dismissed.[51] The CNT Junta de hierro expelled four workers who had “sabotaged” the rationalized foundry collective.[52] The four, who had acquired “indispensable” status, had slept on the night shift; since he had allowed the skilled workmen to nap on the job, their foreman was also fired for permitting “serious damage to the Economy and the War [effort].” The CNT Metallurgical Union of Badalona—where, as we have seen, militancy was especially intense in the early 1930s—had a particular problem with saboteurs, and it requested its Barcelonan counterpart not to give work to Badalonan metallurgists without its express approval.

On 17 March 1938 the CNT delegate of the Collective M.E.Y.D.O. reported to the machinery section of the CNT Metallurgical Union that sabotage was endangering the life of the collective.[53] Over an extended period a great number of parts and tools, valued at 50,000 to 60,000 pesetas, had disappeared. The collective had attempted to convince its workers that these thefts were equivalent to stealing from themselves. Persuasion failed, since the thefts continued and even increased. As a result, the collective laid off its workers until the stolen equipment reappeared. After two days without work (and apparently without pay), several workers on their own initiative went to the home of a certain Juan Sendera and found much of the stolen equipment. The accused Sendera was dismissed from the collective.

Stealing was reported in other workshops and collectives, although its extent or growth is hard to estimate. Petty larceny was rampant among loaders, who stole eggs and grains.[54] Placing the stolen products in their bags, the laborers would make several trips a day to their homes, having apparently intimidated their colleagues and controllers to the point that the latter would not denounce any pilferer. One militant complained that “during work hours many comrades sit down, smoke, and don’t behave as they should. When this is called to their attention, they are insolent with the comrades of the committee.” The assembly voted to fine thieves 100 pesetas for the first offense and to expel recidivists. In the first weeks of the Revolution, the union of market laborers tried to reduce simultaneously both pilfering and unemployment by employing its jobless members as guards.[55]

Some union militants and officials of the collectives were even accused of embezzlement and misuse of funds.[56] The lack of qualified cadres and devoted union militants may have led, in certain cases, to the promotion of opportunists. A former member of the conservative Radical party, who had been quickly promoted to important positions within the CNT local of Castellón, fled to Barcelona; the Castellón union accused him not only of running off with funds destined for refugees but also of taking a female comrade with him.[57] A CNT metallurgist was suspected of siphoning off union dues into his own pocket.[58] Anarchosyndicalist sources reported corruption concerning the collection of funds belonging to the Textile Union.[59]

The most spectacular case of theft occurred in the power industry.[60] The gas and electric committee had a secret—and illegal—bank account in Paris that was supposedly destined for the purchase of coal. In 1936 the managing committee, acting perhaps with the complicity or knowledge of the Generalitat, had authorized a delegation to deposit funds in a Parisian bank. In September 1937 the managing committee ordered a new delegation to return to Paris to change the francs into pesetas. Several colleagues accompanied the two members of the original delegation—one in the CNT, the other in the UGT—who had placed the bank account in their own names. When the spouses of the two men joined them in the French capital, suspicions awoke in other members of the delegation. Tempted by such a large sum, over one million francs, the duo had become embezzlers. They disappeared with the women and the money.

The tabloid reader would be stimulated by this evident corruption in high places. For our purposes, though, the story —which so discredits the revolutionaries that one wonders whether it was fabricated by imaginative franquistas—demonstrated the lack of qualified and committed CNT and UGT personnel for positions of power and responsibility in certain industries. The scandal provoked the direct intervention of the Generalitat in October 1937 and the subsequent end of the industry’s autonomy. Truly dedicated CNT and UGT militants knew that such cases of corruption among their leaders could only demoralize the rank and file and make them even more resistant to any appeal to work hard and fight hard for the cause. Under such circumstances, cynicism was a highly contagious disease. There were, of course, many examples of the other sort: dedicated activists who showed countless times that they were willing to sacrifice at the front and at home. For example, the treasurer of the CNT Woodworkers, assassinated by “vile thieves,” was praised for having given his life to defend the collective’s interests.[61]

In an odd twist, one agricultural collective in Barcelona felt compelled to defend one of its guards, who had killed a child. The collective explained that well-armed neighborhood gangs of twenty to thirty members employed children—some of whom were refugees—to steal produce that the gangs then sold on the black market; the collective’s determination not to permit local “good-for-nothings” to live off its labor had resulted in the unfortunate “accident.”[62] The CNT charged that pilfering by “ignorant troublemakers” was the most serious problem of the Barcelonan Agricultural Collective, which possessed 1,000 hectares (for 24,700 acres) throughout the city.[63] Militants often regarded stealing, waste, and other forms of sabotage and disobedience as fascist, again reducing a fundamentally social and industrial problem to a political level where they could more easily solve it through repression.

It was hardly surprising that petty larceny and welfare cheating became major issues in Barcelona, where thousands of unemployed refugees from other parts of Spain congregated. In July 1938 the city held approximately twenty-two thousand refugees.[64] Communist activists complained that some employed refugees deceived welfare personnel and ate in collectives’ soup kitchens.[65] The PSUC militants demanded that the authorities purge the cheaters. Toward the end of 1938 tensions between natives and the uprooted grew; incidents—especially stealing from the fields—multiplied as food became scarcer for nearly everyone, and Catalans increasingly resented the presence of the newcomers.[66] Welfare officials tried to be generous, and the refugee population in Catalan industrial cities sometimes received rations more regularly than the natives; however, certain towns siphoned rations designated for the new arrivals to the indigenous population.[67] The uprooted suffered from typhoid epidemics, which in Barcelona resulted in 144 deaths in 1936, 261 in 1937, and 632 in 1938.[68]

In less desperate circumstances than the refugees, wage earners also deceived officials. Historians of the Spanish Revolution have ignored the fact that workers sometimes took advantage of the rivalry between the CNT and the UGT to advance their own interests, searching one union and then the other for support in their demands for less work, higher pay, vacations, and job security. A Communist UGT leader found that the naming of factory councils according to the proportion of workers enrolled in each union produced “confusion” and “instability” because of the workers’ switches.[69] In a private meeting of the UGT Railroad Union on 23 January 1937, the CNT was accused of attempting to attract UGT members by reneging on an agreement by both unions to require work on Saturdays.[70] A UGT official asserted that “laziness at this moment is absurd and antirevolutionary,” but other UGT activists insisted that unless the CNT consented to work on Saturday, their members would also refuse to labor. UGT militants also charged their rival with “manoeuvring” to attract disgruntled UGT clerks; the CNT supposedly advocated fewer working hours and more vacations for telephone employees.[71]

In the power industry, which was overwhelmingly CNT in the early days of the Revolution, the UGT tried to win adherents by advocating a shorter workweek of thirty-six hours instead of the CNT’s proposed forty-four hours.[72] The dispute revived in 1937. In July the UGT proposed either a thirty-six or forty-hour intensive schedule, which meant a minimal lunch break; the CNT wanted the normal workweek of forty-four hours.[73] Given the division, the workers began choosing the workweek that suited their individual preferences. A libertarian militant charged that “if the CNT had proposed the establishment of an intensive working week of thirty-six hours, don’t you think that we would have won the majority? The workers, in general, do not think beyond their stomachs.” He implied that the UGT was campaigning to attract CNT members on the platform of a thirty-six-hour week and believed that “it was not now possible to manage the industry because of this problem.” He feared the demoralization of comrades at the front when they learned about the scheduling conflict: the soldiers “will request that the English return to see if they can straighten out things.” Many workers apparently adopted the shorter workweek. CNT activists accused the UGT Gas and Electrical Union of favoring a “do-nothing” working week in order to promote a situation that would force the government to take control of the industry.[74]

On 4 October 1937 a CNT delegate admitted, “We can’t make the workers do what they reject,” but “if we give them what they want, we are heading for slaughter.” A member of the managing committee declared, “This indiscipline of the workers, without a doubt, comrades, stems from the disagreement between the two unions.”[75] An adherent of the UGT, upset at the indiscipline, added that the committee’s orders were not being followed and recommended the expulsion of disobedient workers. He asked his CNT colleague if the Confederación could enforce the work schedule.

I’m afraid not. They [the disobedient workers] will maintain the same attitude as always, and they will not want to compromise.…It is useless to try anything when they ignore the agreements and instructions that come from the Building Committees, the Section Commissions, and so forth. They do not pay attention to anything, whether the orders originate from one union or the other.[76]

A representative from the Barcelonan UGT also feared the increasing “collective indiscipline.” The meeting ended without a solution.

In Casa Girona the UGT workers were “fervent partisans” of the forty-hour week, and, according to CNT sources, they threatened to abandon the UGT if its leaders remained opposed to the shorter working week.[77] One CNT delegate feared that workers in the distribution sector might join the other union if the Confederación did not raise their salaries. The CNT Tinsmiths’ Union worried that if it did not pay for vacations, Communists would profit from its consequent unpopularity.[78] An unknown number of workers became members of both unions, a shrewd but risky tactic. When one such laborer was discovered during an identity check by a control patrol, union militants planned to take “energetic action” against him. The CNT Automobile Union tried to expel General Motors workers who held membership in both unions.[79]

The tensions between the two unions persisted throughout the Revolution, despite their daily cooperation and the similarity of the problems they confronted. The historiography has largely stressed the political and ideological differences between the two organizations. Some historians have focused on the program of the UGT and the Catalan Communist party for nationalization or government control of industry, in contrast to the CNT’s policy of collectivization or union control. Others have pointed to the ambivalence of the CNT and anarchosyndicalists toward political action and governmental responsibility, as opposed to the willingness of the UGT and the Catalan Communist party to participate in elections and to control the state. However significant these ideological and political tensions were, the day-to-day conflicts over economic and industrial control were at least equally important.

The two unions competed constantly for new members, each adherent yielding new dues and increased power. In addition, competition for available jobs was fierce; only those holding an appropriate union card could get them. In certain branches where the CNT dominated, it could place its members in positions. A UGT building union reported in its meeting of 8 December 1936 that workers were joining the Confederación because it could offer them better chances for jobs.[80] A serious struggle in the collective Fabricación general de colores, which had a slight CNT majority, erupted over which union would be able to place its members in a limited number of new jobs.[81] The UGT members of this chemical firm declared that the CNT had acted illegally and arbitrarily by monopolizing new employment. In September 1937 UGT delegates and council members even threatened to call a strike if their rights were violated again.

Throughout the Revolution the unions traded charges of unjustified use of force and unfair tactics. The UGT protested that CNT collectives would ask the Generalitat for assistance when in debt but, when profitable, would hoard the surplus.[82] Likewise, the Confederación accused “socialists” of dividing profits among themselves.[83] Both unions asserted that their rival used “indispensable” status to protect favorites, not irreplaceable workers; others said that many workers became “demoralized” because of the large numbers of “dodgers” (emboscados) protected by the unions’ organizations.[84]

The tensions and struggles between the unions, however important, were overshadowed by the similarity of the problems that they encountered in managing entire industries. Despite their ideological disputes and membership raids, they were responsible for production and therefore for industrial discipline; they cooperated to keep workers compliant. In many industrial branches the CNT and UGT agreed not to rehire workers who had been fired for indiscipline or low productivity.[85] In Barcelona both unions’ federations tried to act in unison to eliminate the New Year’s bonus and prevent the celebration of Christmas.[86] The sindicatos would sometimes combine forces to oppose government initiatives that they perceived to be harmful to the interests of their constituents.[87] In some industries and particularly in textiles, joint CNT-UGT committees overcame their feuding and agreed on hiring practices that divided the number of jobs between the two organizations.[88]

As has been shown, the unions were in basic agreement concerning the issues of industrial reorganization: concentration, standardization, rationalization, and development of the productive forces of the nation. In October 1937, a Communist UGT leader declared that as the struggle continued, the “ideological and tactical differences between the two branches of the militant proletariat” were narrowing.[89] At the UGT congress the following month, some militants demanded “first, unity of action [of the CNT and UGT] to increase and improve production; second, work discipline to eliminate loafing, saboteurs, and the unthinking.”[90] UGT leaders desired an alliance with the CNT not only to domesticate the “uncontrollables” but to avoid the formation of a third union, which, UGT militants feared, could easily attract large numbers of wage earners. The secretary general of the UGT federation of Barcelona supported the workers’ right to choose—but only between the CNT and the UGT.[91] In March 1938, as the eastern front collapsed, the CNT and the UGT signed a program for unity designed to bolster the defense of the Second Republic, whose armed forces experienced increasing desertions.

The CNT and the UGT will cooperate in the rapid constitution of a potent war industry. The unions will have to establish, as an urgent and indispensable task, a strict spirit of vigilance against any kind of sabotage and passivity in work and the improvement of the latter in order to increase and ameliorate production.

The CNT and the UGT believe that a salary that is tied to the cost of living and that takes into account professional categories and productivity must be established. In this sense the industries will defend the principle of “the more and better the production, the greater the pay.”

The two organizations yearn for the recovery of the national wealth, coordinating the economy and ordering it legally so that the independence of the country is assured to its fullest extent.[92]

The Communists termed the program “a great victory for the Popular Front and for democracy.”[93] Many in both unions considered this pact a synthesis of Marxism and anarchosyndicalism, a fraternal embrace of Marx and Bakunin. If so, this joining of hands aimed to make the workers labor harder and to produce more for the unions and the nation.

Faced with sabotage, theft, absenteeism, lateness, false illness, and other forms of working-class resistance to work and workspace, the unions and the collectives cooperated to establish strict rules and regulations that equaled or surpassed the controls imposed by capitalist enterprises. On 18 June 1938 the CNT and UGT representatives of the Collectivá Gonzalo Coprons y Prat, which made military uniforms, reported a serious decline in production that lacked “a satisfactory explanation.”[94] The representatives of the two unions demanded respect for production quotas and the work schedule, strict control of absences, and “the strengthening of the moral authority of the technicians.” The tailoring collective F. Vehils Vidal, which had established an elaborate system of incentives for its four hundred fifty workers, approved a rather strict set of rules in a general assembly on 5 March 1938.[95] One individual was appointed to control tardiness, and too many latenesses would result in a worker’s expulsion. Comrades who were ill would be visited by a representative of the council of the collective; if they were not at home, they would be fined. As in many collectives, to leave during work hours was forbidden, and all work done in the collective had to be for the collective, meaning that personal projects were banned. Comrades leaving the shops with packages were required to show them to guards who were charged with inspection. If a worker observed incidents of stealing, fraud, or any dishonesty, he had to report them or be held responsible. Technicians were required to issue a weekly report on the failures and accomplishments of their sections. Comrades were not permitted to disturb “order inside or outside the firm,” and all workers who did not attend assemblies were fined.

Many other collectives of the clothing industry issued similar sets of rules. In February 1938 the CNT-UGT council of Pantaleoni Germans prohibited unauthorized movements by threatening a suspension of work and salary ranging from three to eight days.[96] The CNT-UGT Control Committee of the Rabat firm (employing mostly women) allowed only conversations concerning work during working hours. Other collectives, such as Artgust, which had unsuccessfully asked workers to increase production, also enforced rules forbidding conversations and even receiving phone calls.[97] In August 1938 in the presence of representatives from the CNT, UGT, and the Generalitat, the workers’ assembly of the Casa A. Lanau prohibited lateness, false illness, and singing during work.[98] The CNT and UGT unions of Badalona initiated a supervision of the sick and agreed that all workers must justify their absences, which were, they claimed, “incomprehensible” and “abusive,” considering that the working week had been reduced to 24 hours.[99] In sev-eral collectives workers received a maximum three-day leave for a death in their immediate family. Enterprises also demanded that their personnel return to the workplace immediately after an air raid or alarm; the CNT Metallurgical Union urged militants to take measures to ensure that production could recommence “without any excuse.”[100]

The severity of these rules and regulations would seem to have been a consequence of the decline of production and discipline in many textile and clothing firms. On 15 June 1937 the accountant of the CNT-UGT Casa Mallafré issued a report on its tailoring shops. He concluded that the administration of the collective had been honest and moral; however, production continued to be “the most delicate part of the problem” and “in production lies the secret of industrial and commercial failure or success.”[101] If output of the workshops continued at its current extremely low levels, the accountant warned, the firm—whether collectivized, controlled, or socialized—would fail. Current production did not even cover weekly expenses; output must increase if the firm were to survive. Another CNT-UGT garment collective, Artgust, reported in February 1938, “In spite of our constant demands to the factory personnel, we have not yet succeeded in improving output.”[102] The small clothes-making firm J. Lanau, with thirty workers, had similar problems. According to its accountant’s report of November 1937, the mostly female personnel had been insured for accidents and illness; they had maternity benefits.[103] The workers reportedly had good relations with the owner and a control committee composed of two representatives from the CNT and one from the UGT. Production was off 20 percent, however; to correct the problem the accountant recommended establishing “clear production quotas” in both the workshops and sales. In other enterprises where workers had cordial relations with management, accountants similarly recommended measures for increasing productivity.[104] The director of a clothing firm told the assembled workers, “All this revolution against the economy must stop. You must maintain maximum productivity because the firm…is seriously ill and needs intensive care. It will only recover with the required injections of work. If this does not occur, the surgeon will be called to amputate the necessary members.”[105] He warned that if some were fired, “it is your fault for producing little and badly.” The CNT representative added that those who did not do their job “were rats of the collective”; the assembly approved the dismissal of three workers. In other collectives individual wage earners were fired or suspended for a variety of reasons: malingering, absenteeism, unauthorized holidays, and “immorality.”[106] The latter charge was not infrequent during the Spanish Revolution and revealed that union activists considered any inadequacy or failure at work and vagrancy in general as “immoral,” if not downright sinful.

In February 1938 the National Council of Railroads established penalties, which included fines and suspensions, for absenteeism, indiscipline, poor productivity, drunkenness, and lateness. The council aimed to eliminate “all types of intensive working days that are shorter than eight hours (the legal working day) and weekly breaks that, without being endorsed by any competent organization, have arisen spontaneously and that cannot and should not continue a day longer.”[107] The MZA required that workers who claimed to be injured on the job report immediately to its health service during working hours.[108] Carelessness that caused accidents led to new rules and new techniques of supervision. In March 1937 a collision resulted in serious “moral” and “material damages,” the latter estimated at “many thousands of pesetas, which the collective had to pay because of certain comrades’ desertion and negligence.”[109] The Comité decided to impose sanctions and discussed the eventual “creation of a study concerning a psycho[logical]-technical examination of all railroad workers.”

In January 1938 at its economic session, the CNT determined the “duties and rights of the producer.” It established the position of a “task distributor” who would “be officially responsible…for the quantity, quality, and conduct of the workers.” This task distributor could dismiss a worker for “laziness or immorality”; other officials were to check if minor work accidents of “suspicious origin” were legitimate or “make-believe.” In addition, “All workers and employees will have a file where the details of their professional and social personalities will be registered.”[110]

Even as early as March 1937, when the CNT was participating in the government, all citizens between eighteen and forty-five (only soldiers, functionaries, and invalids were exempted) had to possess a “work certificate.”[111] The authorities could ask for this card “at any time” and would assign those who did not carry it to fortification work. If violators were found in “cafés, theaters, and other places of amusement,” they could be jailed for thirty days. Right-wingers and others had to employ all kinds of subterfuges to obtain the documentation necessary to avoid fortification work.[112] The Confederación thus realized the old anarchosyndicalist desire for the “identity card of the producer” that would inventory his moral, that is, productive, capacity.

Although most restrictions were designed to make workers work, one rule confirmed the existence of workers who held two jobs or who demanded overtime. These wage earners accepted labor because of individual or family needs, not those of the Revolution or the cause. Continuing the tradition of the prerevolutionary workers’ movement, which desired to integrate the unemployed into the work force, collectives often prohibited dual employment and overtime. In certain collectives, workers were not allowed to have two sources of income. Communist militants planned to fire both those who received a double salary and rumormongers who made such false accusations.[113] CNT union officials scheduled an inspection at the home of one “wheeler-dealer” who was thought to have a small business as well as his regular salary from a controlled enterprise. The UGT railroad union forced militiamen to declare in writing their sources of income.[114]

Although some management committees sharply discouraged overtime, they were not inflexible. When one firm claimed that it could not find the necessary qualified personnel during a busy period, it received permission for employees to work extra hours.[115] Given the demand for skilled personnel in both military and civilian sectors, overtime was a prerequisite for victory, and it was authorized for war-related work. Unions sometimes insisted, however, that extra hours be paid at the ordinary rate. In December 1936 a militant in the jewelers’ section of the CNT Metallurgical Union demanded the expulsion of a colleague who had refused to work extra hours in a CNT collective because overtime pay was low.[116]

During the Spanish Revolution in Barcelona, workers continued to engage in direct and indirect refusals to work. Their acts conflicted with the militants’ urgent need to develop the backward productive forces they had inherited from a weak bourgeoisie. Militants therefore adopted repressive techniques to make workers work and to reduce resistances. They implemented piecework, dismissals, elimination of holidays, medical inspections, and strict rules. Like the capitalists and state managers in Paris, anarchosyndicalists and Marxists in Barcelona struggled against secular resistances. The following chapter will evaluate the activists’ achievements and limitations.


1. A tots els sindicats obrers de la indústria tèxtil de Catalunya, 163, AS.

2. Boletín de información, 9 April 1937.

3. Informe que presenta el consejo económico de la industria siderometalúrgica; Informe que presenta el consejo de empresa de la material para ferrocarriles, 1186, AS.

4. The following paragraph adheres to the minutes of the CNT metallurgists, 1179, AS.

5. Sección de estaciones colectivizadas, 29 November 1936 and 13 January 1937, 1404, AS.

6. Sindicato nacional ferroviario, 23 January 1937, 1482, AS.

7. PSUC, radi 8, 22 July 1937, 1122, AS.

8. F. Vehils Vidal, 23 February 1937, 1099, AS.

9. 26 October 1937, 1219, AS.

10. Red nacional de ferrocarriles, servicio de material y tracción, sector este, May 1938, 1043, AS (original emphasis).

11. Boletín del Sindicato de la industria de la edificación, madera y decoración, 10 August 1937.

12. Joint CNT-UGT declaration in UGT Edificación, 15 August 1937.

13. Libro de actas de comité UGT, sociedad de albañiles, 20 November 1937, 1051, AS.

14. UGT Edificación, 1 February 1938.

15. Josep Maria Bricall, Política econòmica de la Generalitat (1936–1939), (Barcelona, 1978–1979), 1:101–18.

16. Hoy, January 1938.

17. Solidaridad Obrera, 7 May 1937; Juzgado general de contrabando, 1336, AS. On women’s demonstrations, see Enric Ucelay Da Cal, La Catalunya populista: Imatge, cultura i política en l’etapa republicana, 1936–1939 (Barcelona, 1982), 309–23; Temma Kaplan, “Female Consciousness and Collective Action: The Case of Barcelona, 1910–1918,” Signs 7, no. 3 (Spring 1982): 548–65.

18. Estadística: Resúmenes demográficos de la ciudad de Barcelona, 1936–1939, p. 22.

19. This paragraph follows the minutes of the Comité central de control obrero, 181–82, AS; see Walther L. Bernecker, Colectividades y revolución social: El anarquismo en la guerra civil española, 1936–1939, trans. Gustau Muñoz (Barcelona, 1982), p. 363.

20. The next two paragraphs are based on the minutes of the Cros assembly, 1421, AS.

21. Consejo obrero de coches camas, 10 November 1936 and 13 March 1937, 467, AS.

22. 29 September 1936, 182, AS.

23. 25 August 1937, 181, AS.

24. Actas de metalúrgicos, 3 July and 9 April 1937, 1179, AS.

25. Comité ejecutivo de la federación local UGT, 27 November 1937, 501, AS; the federation agreed to pay half the salaries.

26. Acta, 18 March 1937, 531, AS.

27. Reunión de junta, 13 November and 8 December, 1936, 1204, AS.

28. Actas del sindicato único de la metalurgia, sección joyería, platería, relojería, 16 January 1937, 1352, AS.

29. 12 December 1936, 182, AS.

30. Acta, 29 November 1936, 1404, AS.

31. Anna Monjo and Carme Vega, Els treballadors i la guerra civil (Barcelona, 1986), pp. 64, 170.

32. Informe, 14 August 1936, 182, AS; Junta de distribución, CNT, 15 June 1937, 1446, AS.

33. Letter from the Consejo obrero de MZA, sindicato nacional ferroviario UGT, 24 November 1937, 467, AS.

34. Asamblea, 13 January 1937 and Acta, 24 July 1937, 1404, AS. The assembly agreed that if the three paid the fine, they could keep their vacations.

35. Comité regional, sección defensa, 17 July 1938, 1049, AS.

36. The following information is from Boletín del Sindicato de la industria de la edificación, madera y decoración, 10 November 1937.

37. Sanitaria, 12 February 1938, 1203, AS; Libro de actas de comité UGT, sociedad de albañiles, reunión de junta, 7 November 1937, 1051, AS.

38. Comité ejecutivo de la federación local UGT, 29 September 1937, 501. In November 1936 the prosecuting attorney of the Tribunal popular, Adolfo Bueso, labeled “as fascist the majority of the members of the Insurance Union” (Federació local UGT, 27 November 1936, 1311, AS).

39. Actas, 13 June, 6 June, and 22 August 1937, 1404, AS. Sick pay varied according to collective and union.

40. Sindicato de la industria siderometalúrgica, sección lampistas, asamblea general, 25 December 1936 and 15 January 1937, 1453, AS.

41. Actas de metalúrgicos, 15 February 1937, 1179, AS.

42. Comité central, 22 August 1936, 182, AS; see also Acta de reunión del comité de control, 19 March 1937, 467, AS.

43. Reglamento interior, Eudaldo Perramon, 1 September 1938, 1219, AS.

44. Consejo de la federación local, 4 November 1937, 501, AS.

45. The following information is derived from PSUC, radi 8, (July?) 1937, 1122, AS.

46. Reunión de junta, 2 October 1936, 1204, AS; Actas de junta y los militantes de las industrias construcciones metálicas CNT, 7 December 1937, 921, AS; Acta, MZA, 9 April 1937, 531, AS.

47. Reunión de junta, 23 October 1936, 1204, AS; 9 October, 12 November, and 12 December 1936, 182, AS.

48. Acta de reunión, 19 March 1937, 467, AS; Acta de reunión, 16 March 1937, 531, AS.

49. Proyecto de estatuto interior, sastrería Casarromona (n.d.), 1219, AS.

50. J. García Pradas, Antifascismo proletario: Tesis, ambiente, táctica (Madrid, 1938?), pp. 129–30.

51. 14 January 1937, 181, AS.

52. A la junta, 25 June 1938, 1084, AS; see also two letters, 20 January 1938, 1084, AS.

53. This paragraph follows the letter from the Collective M.E.Y.D.O., 854, AS.

54. The following information is from Acta de asamblea, 24 July 1937, 1404, AS.

55. Societat de moços, 20 September 1936, 1170, AS.

56. Actas de construcciones metálicas CNT, 7 December 1937, 921; Junta de teléfonos UGT, 9 January 1937, 1170, AS; Solidaridad Obrera, 30 December 1937.

57. Federación local, 4 April 1938, 1084, AS.

58. Compañeros, 11 February 1938, 1084, AS; militants rejected a proposal to expel the accused but refused to allow him to hold union office.

59. Solidaridad Obrera, 3 February 1937.

60. The following information is based on a series of documents in 181, AS.

61. A todos, 30 September 1938, 1084, AS.

62. Sección de coordinación, informe de la Barriada Prat Vermel, CNT, 11 July 1938, 830, AS.

63. Solidaridad Obrera, 24 June 1938.

64. Comissió consultiva, 13 July 1938, Generalitat 277, AS.

65. PSUC, célula 9a, 7 January 1938, 1122, AS.

66. Comissariat d’assistència als refugiats, informe, Reus, 30 October 1938, Generalitat 277, AS.

67. Comissió, 27 July 1938, Generalitat 277, AS.

68. Estadística, 1936–1939.

69. Joan Fronjosà, La missió dels treballadors i la dels sindicats en la nova organització industrial (Barcelona, 1937), p. 15; see also Asamblea, 29 October 1937, 1219, AS.

70. Sindicato nacional ferroviario, acta, 23 January 1937, 1432, AS.

71. Consejo de la federación local, 4 November 1937, 501, AS; Comité ejecutivo de la federación local UGT, 26 July 1937, 501, AS.

72. 5 October 1936, 182, AS.

73. The following information is found in minutes of 16 July and 27 September 1937, 181, AS.

74. Solidaridad Obrera, 24 July 1937.

75. Consell general, reunió extraordinària, 181, AS.

76. Reunió extraordinària del consell, 4 October 1937, 181, AS.

77. Actas de metalúrgicos CNT, 27 May and 14 July 1937, 1179, AS.

78. Sindicato de la industria siderometalúrgica, sección lampistas, 2 July 1937, 1453, AS.

79. Reunión de junta, 29 December 1936, 1204, AS; Industria del automóvil, 14 October 1936, 1049, AS.

80. Minutes of the Secció de paletes i manobres del sindicat de l’edificació, 1052, AS.

81. Letter from UGT militants to UGT secretary general, 24 September 1937, PC.

82. Consejo de la federación local, 2 October 1937, 501, AS.

83. Actas, cuarta sesión del pleno regional de las industrias químicas de Cataluña, July 1937, 531, AS.

84. Acta de reunión de militantes, 3 June 1938, 531, AS.

85. Sindicat d’obrers metal.lúrgics UGT, secció de joieria, argenteria i anexes, assamblea, 3 July 1937, 505, AS.

86. Federació local UGT, 9 January 1937, 1311, AS.

87. Comité ejecutivo, 21 December 1937, 501, AS.

88. Federació catalana, 1 September 1938, 1049; Comité d’enllaç, secció sastreria, 25 June 1937, 1219, AS.

89. Fronjosà, La missió, p. 28.

90. III Congrés de la UGT a Catalunya, informe de Josep del Barrio (Barcelona, 1937), p. 26.

91. Consejo de la federación local, 16 December 1937, 501, AS; Informe, 7 August 1938, 1322, AS.

92. José Peirats, La CNT en la revolución española (Paris, 1971), 3:37–39.

93. Quoted in Bernecker, Colectividades, p. 136.

94. Gonzalo Coprons y Prat, empresa colectivizada, vestuarios militares, 1099, AS.

95. The following information is based on Projecte de reglamentació interior de l’empresa, 1099, AS.

96. Projecte d’estatut interior per el qual hauran de regir-se els treballadors, 1099, AS.

97. Assamblea ordinaria dels obrers de la casa Artgust, 6 September 1938, 1099, AS.

98. Acta aprobada por el personel de la casa Antonio Lanau, 15 August 1938, 1099, AS; for an analogous prohibition on singing, Reglamento, Costa colectivizada, 22 September 1938, 1219, AS.

99. Boletín del Sindicato de la industria fabril y textil de Badalona y su radio, February 1937; Reglamento interior, confecciones casa Parareda, empresa colectivizada, 1219, AS; Reglamento interior, Eudaldo Perramon, 1 September 1938, 1219, AS.

100. See Reglamentos, 1219, AS; Circular no. 37, 19 March 1938, 1084, AS.

101. Informe de la casa Mallafré hecho por el contable del CADCI, 15 June 1937, 1099, AS.

102. Letter from Artgust to Sección sastrería CNT, 9 February 1938, 1099, AS.

103. Informe revisión J. Lanau (signed by accountant), 15 November 1937, 1099, AS.

104. Informe, August 1938, 1219, AS.

105. Acta, 12 July 1938, 1219, AS.

106. Casa Alemany, 23 June 1937, 1219, AS; Rabasso Palau, 25 October 1938, 1219, AS; 8 July 1938, 1219, AS; letter from Comité de la fábrica no. 7 (n.d.), 1085, AS.

107. Consejo nacional de ferrocarriles, circular no. 3, primas de regularidad, 26 February 1938, 1043, AS.

108. Acta, MZA, 8 April 1937, 531, AS.

109. Acta de la reunión, comité central, 16 and 18 March 1937, 531, AS.

110. Peirats, La CNT, 3:21.

111. Décret instituant un “certificat du travail,” 4 March 1937, 259, AD. For the certificates themselves, Generalitat 252, no. 13, AS.

112. Luis López de Medrano, 986 días en el infierno (Madrid, 1939), pp. 192–93.

113. PSUC, radi 8, 26 July 1937, 1122, AS.

114. CNT junta de distribución, 8 June 1937, 1446, AS; Sindicato nacional ferroviario, 23 January 1937, 1482, AS.

115. Reunión de junta, 29 December 1936, 1204, AS.

116. Actas del sindicato único de la metalurgia, sección joyería, platería, relojería, 8 December 1936, 1352, AS.

Workers’ Resistance

Preferred Citation: Seidman, Michael. Workers Against Work: Labor in Paris and Barcelona during the Popular Fronts. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1991 1991.