Zara shop workers protest outside Spanish stores after record profit

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Zara shop workers protest outside Spanish stores: After Inditex announced record profits and increased shareholder payments, employees demanded improved working conditions and staged protests outside stores across Spain on Friday. Inditex owns Zara, Bershka, and other apparel brands.

A group of protesters, mostly women, chanted, “That much profit is our sacrifice,” and other slogans outside the flagship Bershka store on Madrid’s famous Gran Via street. Barcelona and Seville were among seven other cities that saw protests.

According to Carolina Albarran, a 50-year Zara employee, “If you want the workers to be well off, those profits have to be shared.” Inditex is the sector leader in terms of profitability.

Last week, Inditex announced a record 5.4 billion euros in yearly profit and announced a 28% increase to its dividend distribution, both of which sent its shares soaring to new heights.

In the year leading up to January 2024, the Spanish market contributed for 14.8% of Zara’s total sales of 36 billion euros ($38.94 billion), and the country is home to 28,000 shopworkers across several brands, including Stradivarius and Massimo Dutti.

Protests in the days leading up to Easter were supported by the two largest Spanish trade unions, CCOO and UGT. Stores continued operating normally as employees congregated beyond of their normal work hours.
A union representative presented a letter from Inditex that expressed interest in meeting with all shop employees in April to discuss their concerns, but the firm itself chose not to comment.

A range of benefits, including a minimum number of weekends off each year for all employees, an additional bonus for those with more than four years of service, and greater hours for part-time workers, are being demanded by the unions from the company.

Inditex has agreed to reinstate a one-time bonus of 1,000 euros for shopworkers in Spain this year, following a wage hike of almost 20% last year. Inditex reported in its annual report that the average salary of its 161,281 worldwide employees was 28,726 euros in 2023, a 9% increase from the previous year.

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