On September 18, 1911, early in the morning, a major strike started in the streets of Bilbao (Bizkaia). At the beginning of September, Basque steelworkers from big factories, like the “Great Furnaces of Biscay” (Altos Hornos de Vizcaya, S.A.), had gone out on strike against the poor working conditions and the central government position, because it supported the big corporations’ coercive mechanisms against workers. In previous years, the labor situation had dramatically deteriorated in Bilbao and the whole Bizkaian mining area. Governmental authorities reacted with full force against workers, violating the strikers’ civil rights. Eventually, the fighting in the streets of those Basque industrial centers grew in intensity and spread to other regions, followed by the events of September 18. On this day, labor conflicts in the Basque steel industry reached their highest point when other labor organizations in Spain joined in the fight against the government-sponsored corporatism. The general strike was a symptom of the growing influence of labor unions in the major industrial centers, such as the city of Bilbao and the surroundings. Furthermore, it showed the strength of the organized labor’s commitment to strategies of resistance against the excesses of big capitalist corporations. The decades between 1890 and 1910 witnessed the expansion of a unionized industrial workforce and labor organizations in the Basque Country.
Every Friday we look into our Basque archives for interesting historic events that happened on the same day.