THE SALES MAY BE ON, but the stores are closed. That was what potential customers of Swedish clothing chain H&M found on Tuesday, as industrial action by staff prompted the shutters to stay down at shops across Spain. 

Spain’s biggest labour unions, CCOO and UGT, organised the work stoppage, the first day of which took place yesterday. 

The striking staff claim that they are ‘overloaded with work’, according to a report in Spanish daily El Pais, and that personnel levels are too low. 

They also say that there are too many staff on part-time contracts and that their salaries need increasing. 

According to the CCOO union, there are 125 H&M stores across Spain, with a total of 4,000 employees. 

“The company does not cover people off sick or people on leave, and that is causing huge tensions in the workforce, meaning that we have to do our work and the work of those who are missing,” Mario Gonzalez, a CCOO union representative, told El Pais

What’s more, the company struggled in 2022, with a 12% rise in sales but a 67% fall in profits due to the effect of rampant inflation.

The stoppages on Tuesday ran from 11am to 1pm, and 8.30pm to 10.30pm, while there are 24-hour strikes scheduled for Thursday and Friday. 

Staff from Inditex, the Spanish textiles giant that owns brands such as Zara and Berksha, managed to secure salary increases and a €1,000 bonus late last year after threatening similar industrial action due to their loss in purchasing power because of inflation.

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