There were 19 days of strike, which completely paralyzed the metallurgical industry in Cantabria and which came to an end yesterday with a principle of agreement between the unions and the employers. At issue was a salary increase requested by workers and the renewal of the collective bargaining agreement.
After ten failed meetings, it took more than six hours of negotiation to reach an agreement. Workers got a retroactive increase of 3.5% for 2021, 4.5% for 2022, and 3% for 2023 and 2024.
The union representatives admit that “all the workers’ wishes were not achieved”, but that the agreement is “satisfactory” and that, now, it is the Government that has to take the necessary steps to protect this industry. “I want to congratulate the metal comrades of Cantabria who have reached a historic agreement. For more than six years we have been calling for a great State agreement for Industry, today this agreement is essential, to help us get out of the precarious situation that the industry lives in our country”, said Pepe Álvarez, union leader of UGT.
The two parties only reached an agreement after the intervention of the Ministry of Labour, led by Minister Yolanda Díaz, who acted as a mediator in the conflict. The regional government was the target of much criticism from the workers, who accused its president, Miguel Ángel Revilla, of “lack of commitment” to find a solution to the problem and of getting the matter over with a simple sentence: “This is not the time to strikes”.
Unions and workers reminded the regional executive that the collective bargaining agreement had expired more than a year ago, long before energy or fuel problems were on the table, and that nothing was done during that time.
The 19-day strike had an adhesion of about 95% of the workers and managed to completely paralyze the metallurgical industry of the autonomous community. The large companies in the region had already asked the employers and the unions to reach an agreement, because the costs of the strike were beginning to be unbearable for the region’s economy.
The employers accused the unions of making “unacceptable demands” and the unions accused the employers of “refusing to negotiate” and of constantly changing the proposals, which always fell far short of the workers’ wishes. With the mediation of the Ministry of Labor, an agreement was finally reached that put an end to more than three weeks of strike.