Bizkaiko Langileei: 12th Text Commentary and Demands

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Bizkaiko langileei: 12th text commentary

This document is a first level text, in which the target reader can be any citizen. Although it is not known who the author is exactly, we know it was written by the workers of the mining district. We can also deduce it was written by a socialist because it was published in La Lucha de Clases. It was written in 1st May 1896. The content is political and socioeconomic. The text is about the demands of workers.

This text was written during the Restoration level. The system was conservative and two dynastic parties took the power in turns using rigging elections. On the one hand it was a specially delicate moment, because not only was the situation of the country bad, but they were also starting to have problems with colonies (the colonial war, which finished with the loss of the remaining colonies). On the other hand, the backwardness of the country has to be mentioned. Compared to other European Countries Spain was underdeveloped. However, in some areas modern industrialization was beginning, in Catalonia and in the Basque Country. In the Basque Country there was a big iron industry developing. Society was at that moment a class society, where money ordered the whole society. In the Basque Country there was a big bourgeoisie class, which invested in that industry. In fact, the economic legislation, the liberalism, was always looking for the interest of the owners and not of the workers. To get ahead the backwardness, the government offered protective measures in order to compete in Spain and continue with the production. Nevertheless there were also lots of poor immigrants coming from other regions, since the work demands were high. Those non-privileged people who come to work lived in a hard situation: they had to live in barracks, buy food in canteens, work for long hours and with low salaries. Consequently, workers, conscious of being in a big number, started to organise themselves in unions and joined the workers’ movement which were emerging at that time.

Regarding the text analysis, in concrete we have the complaint of the workers of the area of Gallarta (mining district in Biscay). Taking the advantage of the 1st of May celebration, they presented their demands. We know that the workers writing the document were socialist. In fact, the socialism was the majoritarian union (and the writers probably belonged to UGT). The demands were kept the same, and they were the following ones: they wanted to reduce the time they had to work and be free to live and to buy the food wherever they wanted. There is even a reference to 6 years before where they had presented the same demands. Apparently, they only received some improvements regarding the length of work hours. Their demands were addressed to the government because they considered even criminal not taking into account citizens needs and letting workers live and work in such poor conditions. They also prepared the way of acting. They formed a commision to present the demand and if needed, they were ready to go on strike again. One of the things that was on their ideology was that workers had the right to go on strike in order to present their disconformity. However it was very difficult for workers to obtain better conditions regarding barracks and canteens, because owners wanted to continue with the system. Nevertheless, although not immediately, with the time they achieved things.

In conclusion, workers complain because the situation of them in the mines was very hard and unhealthy. In fact, those were their first steps to organize their protest. They wanted a kind of negotiation with the owners and the government, but showing their strength and all workers united. They felt that the government did not care about the interest of the workers. Workers, in addition to the bad conditions while working, felt that they were not accepted in society. They did not integrate, and in fact nationalism was emerging. The nationalism did not want workers to come from poor areas (in general of the plató or the regions of Extremadura, Castile, Galicia…).

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