Spanish women shoe workers organise to end decades of exploitation

Rocío Ros Rebollo - 28 January 2019

“If we stop, you don’t walk” is the arresting motto of the Women Shoe Workers Association (WSA) of Elche, a small city in south-eastern Spain. This group was established last year to expose two open secrets in the country’s so-called ‘Footwear Capital’: the lack of formal employment contracts and poor working conditions that many shoe workers in this area have endured for decades.

Fifteen years ago, a study found that almost 9,000 people – about half of Elche’s shoe workers – were working without contracts, more than 7,300 of whom were women. Workers in the area say this situation has persisted. Without contracts, they’ve struggled to challenge exploitative working conditions and many work longer hours, for less than the minimum wage, without benefits... See more