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Work and Revolution:

Workers' Control in Barcelona
in the Spanish CivilWar, 1936-38

The enormous literature on the Spanish Revolution and civil war is

dominated by a political, military or diplomatic perspective. Few
historians, whether Communist, Republican,franquista, anarchist,
syndicalist, Trotskyist, or even those lacking a clear political
perspective, have written a social history of the events leading to
the Revolution and the Revolution itself. This article will attempt
partially to fill the vacuum by analyzing the economic and social
development of Barcelona, the capital of Spain's most economical-
ly advanced region, Catalonia, and its most important city. The
social and economic development of Barcelona in Catalonia will be
interwoven with the story of the two main actors in the drama of
the Spanish Revolution - the bourgeoisie (the owners of the means
of production) and the working class. The study of their relation-
ship will aid our understanding of workers' control of the factories
and workshops of Barcelona from July 1936 to the end of 1938.
The historiography on workers' control in Barcelona has largely
ignored a fundamental problem in Spanish history: the weakness of
the Spanish bourgeoisie. This weakness is twofold. Politically, the
Spanish bourgeoisie never forced a lasting separation of the Church
from the state and the military from the civilian government; and
economically it created neither a viable agriculture nor productive
industry in most of Spain. While the Catalan bourgeoisie had in-
dustrialized to some extent and had produced a respectable textile
industry in the nineteenth century, by the opening of the twentieth

Journal of Contemporary History (SAGE, London and Beverly Hills),

Vol. 17 (1982), 409-433
410 Journal of ContemiporaryHistory

century this industry was in decline, and the Catalans had not forg-
ed others to take its place. An exploration of the failure of the
Catalan and Barcelona bourgeoisie to develop the means of pro-
duction is essential to any critical understanding of what the unions
and their militants desired and accomplished when they seized con-
trol of the Barcelona factories and shops.
The lack of industry and the weakness of the urban bourgeoisie
in Castile, the centre of Spain, is well-known, and the Catalan suc-
cess in fostering a bourgeois culture with its values of industry,
thrift, and work is often contrasted with the Castilian case. By the
end of the seventeenth century the Catalans had developed a pros-
perous textile industry.' In the eighteenth century Barcelona pro-
bably had the most powerful bourgeoisie of the Spanish Peninsula,
engaging in overseas trade and textile manufacturing. It began a
'real economic and industrial colonization of Spain'.2 Yet, despite
the relative economic power of Catalonia in Spain, the eighteenth-
century Catalan cotton industry has been described as 'modest'.3
From 1834 to 1854 the Catalan cotton industry blossomed and
expanded. The Catalan textile industry was 'mechanized' between
1835 and 1861, in an attempt to reach the same level of mechaniza-
tion as that of foreign textile industries, a level it never reached.4
Thus, even at its peak in the middle of the nineteenth century, the
Catalan cotton industry, the basis of Catalan industrialization, was
weak in comparison with its foreign competitors. For example, in
the Catalan cotton industry each worker transformed 660 kg of cot-
ton per year in contrast to the United States where each worker
transformed 1,500 kg of cotton per year.5 Hence the constant
demand from Catalan industrialists in the nineteenth century for
tariff protection by Madrid to preserve a relatively backward
industry which was dispersed among small, often uneconomical,
firms. The demand for protection by the Catalans resulted in a
'pact' at the end of the nineteenth century with conservative
agrarian and traditionalist elements of Castile and Andalusia, sec-
tors that also desired protection for their unproductive and
backward agricultures. Thus the Catalan industrialists came to sell
their high-priced textiles to a poor but protected market in which
the level of consumption was very low.
Although the cotton and textile industries were certainly the most
important of the Catalan enterprises, the regional economic growth
in the nineteenth century was not limited to textiles. Railroads were
constructed, but these were dominated by foreign, mainly French,
Seidman: Workers' Control in Barcelona, 1936-38 411

capital and technology.6 Mines also began to be developed, but

again the exploiters were often foreigners, not Spanish. It is
estimated that 50 percent of Spanish mines belonged to foreigners
who were responsible for much of the concentration and moder-
nization of Spanish industry.7 Orders for agricultural, textile, and
transportation machinery went mostly to foreign industries since
the Catalans had failed to build a potent metallurgical or machine-
tool industry. At the end of the nineteenth century there was a cer-
tain decline in the key Catalan cotton industry as its growth rate
dropped from 5.54 percent per year between 1834 and 1880 to 2.28
percent between 1880 and 1913.8 This decline would have been
greater if Spain had not retained its protected colonial markets in
Cuba and Puerto Rico until 1898, the year of the Spanish defeat by
the United States.
Thus by the end of the nineteenth century the Catalan
bourgeoisie was losing some of its industrial dynamism. It had built
a textile industry, which, while respectable, was nonetheless suffer-
ing from low productivity and under-mechanization. These faults
resulted in a 'pact' with large landowners in the centre of Spain,
culminating in the tariffs of 1891. During this period, as the
Catalan bourgeoisie both demanded and received protection from
Madrid, it also moved closer to the values of the aristocratic and
Catholic centre. Important sectors of the Catalan bourgeoisie mar-
ried into the aristocracy or ennobled themselves.9 Catalan
bourgeois society often returned to the faith of the Catholic
Church.10 The bourgeois culture of work, thrift, and industry
seemed to falter. Although there was limited growth in metallurgy,
chemicals and electricity, these branches, like the railroads of an
earlier period, were dominated by foreign capital and technology.
The established industrial sectors such as shipbuilding, shipping,
and the port of Barcelona, declined significantly. On the eve of the
First World War Spain was dependent on foreign nations for many
raw materials, finished products, and even foodstuffs. In 1914, for
example, 98 percent of spindles for the cotton industry were
The First World War provided Catalan capitalism with,its great
opportunity. Neutral Spain could now sell to all the warring
nations and to the markets which the combatants had previously
controlled. Spanish exports quickly expanded, and Spain unex-
pectedly had a favourable balance of trade for the first time in
many years. The Barcelona textile industry profited greatly. Yet,
despite the windfall profits, Barcelonian industry was not
412 Journal of Contemporary History

significantly changed. Its major defects - smallness, atomization,

technical backwardness, and lack of organization - persisted. The
poor infrastructure of deficient railroads and ports hindered com-
merce and industry. Profits which could have been used to moder-
nize antiquated machinery, concentrate atomized firms, develop
new industries, and free Barcelona and Catalonia from foreign
economic domination were spent elsewhere. The Barcelona
bourgeoisie preferred to buy new foreign cars, to speculate in Ger-
man marks or Berlin real estate, or to build luxurious houses.'2
Even Catalan banks speculated with war profits by investing in cot-
ton commodities, the collapse of which contributed to the failure of
the Bank of Barcelona.'3
An enormous opportunity was therefore lost, and a predictable
post-war crisis hit Catalan industry. Many small chemical and drug
firms, initiated during the war to provide substitutes for German
exports, were quickly eliminated when peacetime commerce was
resumed.14 The great industrial powers rapidly recovered the
markets which had been lost to Spain. In 1922 the post-war crisis
meant a forty-five percent reduction in the production of Catalan
textiles.15 The government under the dictatorship of Primo de
Rivera was forced to establish one of the highest tariffs in Europe
to protect both Catalan and the rest of Spanish industry.
Employers often ignored even the minimal social legislation passed
to protect the workers. In 1929 cereals, oil, wine, and oranges were
twenty percent of the Spanish GNP, while iron and steel produc-
tion were only two percent.'6
The Second Republic (1931-39) merely raised the protective bar-
riers which had continued to exist under Primo de Rivera, and it
failed to solve the country's essential social and economic pro-
blems. The standard of living for Spanish workers remained low.
The level of illiteracy and the number of priests per capita were
among the highest in Western Europe.17 As Spanish workers
returned from the Depression-wracked nations of Northern Europe
and emigration, an escape valve for the unemployed in Spain, was
cut off, unemployment in Barcelona and other parts of Spain in-
creased.'8 Neither the government nor private industry offered ef-
fective solutions. For example, the directors of Spain's principal
savings banks refused a government proposal in 1933 to finance
dam construction to irrigate land and sell electric power: 'This pro-
posal, so similar to the actual investment pattern of many large
American insurance companies, was much too bold for the
Seidman: Workers' Control in Barcelona, 1936-38 413

assembled bankers'.19Spain's percentage of exports in world trade

dropped steadily from 1.38 in 1880, 1.11 in 1913, 0.98 in 1925 to
finally 0.84 in 1935.20
Spanish workers were most seriously affected by the failure of
their bourgeoisie to develop the means of production. Salaries,
health, education, housing, and social legislation were all below
Western European norms. In 1900 the death rate was 30 per 1,000
in Spain, compared with 18 per 1,000 in Western Europe.2'
The few exporting industries competed with those of the
more technologically advanced nations by cutting the salaries of
their workers. Just before the First World War Spain had the
lowest salaries in Europe (Portugal excepted).22 Many factories
lacked light, space, fresh air, and heat. Social legislation was inef-
fective, and before the First World War there were only eight work
inspectors in the entire country.23
Conditions improved slightly after the First World War, but the
basic problems remained for Spanish workers and peasants.
Although some industrial progress was made in the 1920s, by 1930
Spain remained basically an agrarian country with almost one-half
the active population engaged in agrarian activities. The percen-
tages of population in 1930 in the industrial and agrarian sectors
were roughly equivalent to the distribution of the French popula-
tion between 1880 and 1890.24The influx of the rural poor kept
salaries low for many urban workers. In Catalonia, where the
average number of workers in an industrial firm was forty-six,25
owners did not or could not improve working conditions. Educa-
tion was either lacking or controlled by the Catholic Church. The
level of illiteracy in Spain was only matched by Portugal or Latin
America.26 Technical education was insufficient, with only 1,527
students in both state and Church technical schools in 1935.27
Housing for many workers in cities was overcrowded and
unhealthy with a high incidence of tuberculosis.28In the period of
economic crisis and higher unemployment, 1931-36, protection for
the unemployed was inadequate.
Working-class misery entwined with the political and economic
failures of the Catalan bourgeoisie created a revolutionary Ideology
among the workers of Barcelona. Before the First World War the
influence of French anarcho-syndicalism, based on the union or
sindicato, was strong in the Barcelona anarcho-syndicalist union,
the CNT (Confederaci6n Nacional de Trabajo). Anarcho-
syndicalism called on workers in their unions to take over the
414 Journal of Contemporary History

means of production, and, just as importantly, to develop them. It

emphasized the virtues of work and sacrifice. Georges Sorel, the
French anarcho-syndicalist philosopher who was influential in Italy
and Spain, rejected what he considered the bourgeois notion of
progress; nevertheless, he believed that true progress existed in the
workshop and in production:

Revolutionary syndicalism is the greatest educational force that contemporary

society has in order to prepare the work of the future.

The free producer in a highly progressive workshop... desires to surpass

everything that has been done before... The idea of continual progress is
realized in a workshop of this kind.29

Unlike France, where anarchism and anarcho-syndicalism died

out during and after the First World War and where the
bourgeoisie effectively developed the means of production and
separated the Church from the state, in Spain anarcho-syndicalism
as a doctrine and a practice grew even stronger after the First
World War. Those anarchists who believed that the union would be
the basis of the future society of libertarian communism gained
over other anarchists who held a more 'individualist' position or
who considered that the building blocks of the new society would
be the municipalities or the communes of the countryside. Diego
Abad de Santillan, an anarchist leader who was later to represent
the CNT in the Catalan regional government (Generalitat) during
the Revolution, exemplified the changes in anarchist ideology.
Abad de Santillan, who had opposed the domination of the union
in the anarchist movement, became one of the most ardent
defenders of the sindicato as the basis of revolution.30 He also
shifted from being a zealous critic of 'capitalist' techology to an
enthusiastic supporter. In 1931 he wrote that modern industrialism,
such as Fordism, was 'pure fascism' which annihilated the 'per-
sonality and dignity of man'.31 Yet two years later, in 1933, San-
tillan wrote that modern industry was a source of pride for man
since it had led him to dominate nature. He praised 'Taylorization'
for eliminating 'the unproductive movements of the individual and
raising his productivity'.32He underlined the necessity to eliminate
'parasitism' and to provide work for all. Work would be both a
right and a duty in revolutionary society.33
Santillan, a member of the radical FAI (Federacion Anarquista
Seidman: Workers' Control in Barcelona, 1936-38 415

Iberica) which often controlled important positions within the

anarcho-syndicalist CNT, was not alone in his support of work,
modern technology, and the union as the seeds of the new society.
More moderate members of the CNT also advocated many of San-
tillan's objectives. Angel Pestania, leader of the less revolutionary
elements of the CNT in the 1930s, called for a reorganization by the
union to improve both production and consumption.34 For Juan
L6pez, another CNT moderate, the union should take control of
production from the bosses and impose 'order and moral
discipline' on the shop floor.35 'Technical commissions' would run
each industry, in accordance with the popular will, and L6pez'
unions would intensify and elevate production.36 Other CNT
members who downgraded the importance of the union in favour
of the municipality or the commune, nevertheless stressed their
faith in technological progress and production. For these more
rural anarchists, everyone had the obligation to produce, and the
'identity card of the producer' was a prerequisite to any rights at
For many anarcho-syndicalist theorists, worker-elected demo-
cratic councils would be the decision-making bodies of the Revolu-
tion. Power would be exercised by the workers who could revoke
the council at all times. According to Santillan, regional and local
councils would be coordinated by the Federal Council of the
Economy, which would plan and direct industry and agriculture in
accordance with directives from below.38 The goal of the ultimate
council was 'to produce more and distribute better', and the
Revolution would create 'a vast community of producers and con-
sumers'.39 However, Santillan and other anarcho-syndicalist
theorists never explored in depth the problem of a possible conflict
between the democratic form of the councils and the content of the
programme for economic modernization and industrialization. In
other words, what if the workers themselves resisted the anarcho-
syndicalist desire for modernization? Before exploring this ques-
tion through an examination of what the Barcelona unions actually
did when they controlled the factories during the Revolution, the
failure of the Spanish and Catalan bourgeoisies to develop the
means of production must be kept in mind. This failure deeply af-
fected the actions of the revolutionaries and led them to undertake
the tasks which the bourgeoisie had neglected. The revolutionaries
wanted to free the Spanish economy from foreign control and to
create an economically independent nation, and they adopted
416 Journal of Contemporary History

aspects of both the Soviet and Western (specifically American)

economic models, which had rapidly developed the productive
forces of the nation.
The working-class militants got the chance to take over the
means of production on 19 July 1936 with the pronunciamiento of
the Spanish generals, eventually headed by Generalisimo Francisco
Franco. The military revolt was defeated in Barcelona because of
the combined actions of the anarcho-syndicalist, Socialist, Com-
munist, and Republican forces. CNT militants played a major role
in the defeat of the pronunciamiento. The rebellious general who
led the revolt in Barcelona was quickly shot, and a large part of the
bourgeoisie fled the city in fear. Factory-owners and businessmen
literally abandoned their firms which, working-class militants
claimed, had often been neglected and undeveloped. One anarcho-
syndicalist source estimated that fifty percent of the bourgeoisie
fled, forty percent were 'eliminated from the social sphere', and only
ten percent remained and worked.40Militants from the CNT, quite
often with the collaboration of members of the Communist-
oriented UGT (Uni6n General de Trabajadores), took charge of the
abandoned factories. Many firms, especially those with over a
hundred workers, were collectivized. The collectives, as they were
called, were ruled by a factory council, usually composed of both
CNT and UGT militants elected by the workers of the firm. Many
other factories and workshops, particularly those which had less
than fifty workers and whose owners remained in Barcelona to
work during the Revolution, were managed jointly by the owner
and a control committee of CNT and UGT militants. It should also
be noted that almost all workers were, in effect, forced to join one
or the other union since life without a union card was often dif-
ficult in revolutionary Barcelona.
Immediately after the failure of the military uprising in
Barcelona, the CNT occupied the most important political, police,
and, of course, economic positions in the city. As other forces
Communist, Socialist, and Catalan nationalist - reorganized and
gained strength, the CNT began to lose its political and police
powers in Barcelona. Many historians - Burnett Bolloten in The
Spanish Revolution, the Left, and the Struggle for Power during
the Civil War, Noam Chomsky in American Power and the New
Mandarins, John Brademas in Anarcosindicalismo y revoluci6n en
Espana (1930-1937), Carlos Semprun-Maura in Revolucion y
Contrarrevolucion en Cataluha (1936-1937) - have focused on the
Seidman: Workers' Control in Barcelona, 1936-38 417

decline of the CNT's political and police powers and have wedded
the CNT's loss of political power to a collapse of its economic
power in those factories which had been collectivized or controlled
by its militants. In other words, the periodization of the collectives
has become subordinated to the periodization of the CNT's
political vicissitudes in and out of government. Thus the end of the
CNT's participation in the Republican government after the street
fighting in Barcelona in May 1937 has been identified with the suc-
cessful counter-revolution against the CNT's economic power in
the factories which it controlled.
The identification of political and economic periodizations has
some, but only limited, value. It was highly probable that when the
forces opposed to the CNT, whether Communist or Republican,
controlled the government, CNT factories were denied foreign cur-
rencies and financial assistance necessary to procure raw materials
and machinery. It has also been shown that the political withdrawal
of the CNT a few weeks after the fighting in Barcelona in May 1937
increased Communist strength and led to important attacks on col-
lectives in certain regions, notably Aragon. Nevertheless, in
Barcelona, the most important bastion of the CNT, where it was
undoubtedly the most important union, its economic control of in-
dustry did not collapse when its enemies gained political power. In
fact, by its own and its enemies' admissions, the CNT, often with
the participation of the UGT, retained control of many of the most
essential industries in Barcelona virtually until the end of the war.
The final part of this article will examine how the CNT and UGT
rationalized the industries which they controlled and consequent
problems which the unions and their militants encountered.
One of the first major tasks which the militants undertook was
the concentration of the tiny and dispersed firms which composed
most of Barcelona industry. With perhaps over 50,000 workers in
the textile industry, the city of Barcelona was the most important
textile centre in Spain. Although there were several large factories,
in general the textile industry was dispersed in 'industrial crumbs',
small firms lacking modern machinery. Often when these
uneconomical units closed, their old machinery was bought at
bargain prices by another industrialist who employed it again.41
Most of the Barcelona metallurgical industries' 35,000 workers
were also scattered among small firms and shops which averaged
less than fifty workers per unit. The statistics available on sixty-
nine chemical companies in Barcelona indicate that nineteen firms
418 Journal of Contemporary History

had between one and ten workers; thirty-five firms between eleven
and fifty workers; eight between fifty and a hundred workers; six
between a hundred and five hundred workers, and only one over
five hundred workers.42The most important exception, the com-
pany Cros with about two thousand workers in branches in many
Spanish cities, was linked to English capital. With over 610 firms,
the Catalan electrical industry remained a hodgepodge of small,
often obsolete, power plants and distribution centres.
Both CNT and UGT militants wanted concentration of enter-
prises for several reasons. First, the 'industrial crumbs' were held
responsible for the low wages and poor working conditions of
Barcelona workers. Second, the tiny firms were unable to compete
in the world market, and their weaknesses permitted the domina-
tion of foreign capital in certain sectors. Third, mergers would
reduce the number of 'parasitic' middlemen, create economies of
scale, and thus lower costs to consumers. Therefore, the militants
quickly attempted to merge the industries. In textiles, work done at
home (trabajo a domicilio) disappeared after 19 July 1936.43 In
May 1937 the CNT Garment Workers Union:

succeeded in erecting a workshop in order quickly to end work which was being
done in the home so that this work could be accomplished by profes-
sionals... The premises where this workshop was installed have natural light and
ventilation. Therefore production will gain in quality because these (women)
workers will be under the direction of an expert.44

In construction, the CNT Building Union affirmed:

that changing the structure of the shop for the factory and counting on a rational
and technical base, production will increase and physical effort will decrease.45

At the beginning of September 1937, the CNT Building Union had

eliminated 'parasitic' middlemen and had concentrated 3,000 shops
into 120 'great producing centres' which supposedly mass-
produced.46The CNT and UGT construction unions created one of
the most important amalgamations with more than 30,000
Standardization of parts and equipment often accompanied the
fusion of the 'industrial crumbs'. CNT metallurgical militants
wrote that standardization had three advantages: interchangeable
parts, speed of repairs, and economy, and they concluded:
Seidman: Workers' Control in Barcelona, 1936-38 419

The degree of Standardization is the scale that serves to determine industrial pro-
gress. Proof of this is that nations that have the best industry are those which
have the greatest quantity of standardized parts.48

The Industria Metalgrafica, a collective of 220 workers, 91 of

whom were men and 129 women, offered an excellent example of
standardization and rationalization in what was, for Barcelona, a
relatively large factory.49206 of the collective's workers belonged
to the CNT and fourteen to the UGT. The eight technicians of the
firm were in the CNT; whereas the fourteen administrative person-
nel were in the UGT. With machinery that was approximately
twenty-nine years old, it had produced metal boxes, metal cases,
and lithographic equipment, but after the Revolution the factory
was converted to war production. In November 1936 the
collective's ruling council acknowledged that it intended to 'reduce
labour as much as possible' by eliminating certain processes. In
April 1937 the Council of Industria Metalgrafica declared: 'The
ideal would increase production and uncustomarily to
lower labour costs, general costs, and consequently the price of the
article.' The Council argued that it was: 'absolutely necessary to
modify totally the manufacturing process, and we consider that
"standard" manufacturing is the most advisable'. The collective's
ruling body wanted a 'rational division' of machinery so that each
factory could specialize in one type of production, for example,
rectangular boxes, round containers, or lithography.
The desire to rationalize and standardize resulted in the adoption
of the techniques of F.W. Taylor, an American engineer who was a
founder of the 'scientific organization of work'. Taylorism
involved a breaking down of the worker's task into its component
parts, thus deepening the division of labour and terminating
artisan-like production. The American engineer advocated increas-
ing the speed of production, and his 'scientific organization' led to
a kind of standardization of the workers themselves, who perform-
ed extremely simplified tasks which required little thought or train-
ing.50 His system encouraged increased production through the
'rational' use of incentives and piecework. It enlarged that division
between those who thought or planned and those who only exe-
cuted orders. Both the CNT and the UGT promoted Taylorism.
On 19 November 1938 a CNT technician called Taylor 'the greatest
organizer known'.51 The technician thanked the workers and the
director of the factory Labora for their cooperation. He regretted
420 Journal of Contemporary History

his departure but was confident that if Labora continued on its pre-
sent path, it would become one of the most important metallurgical
firms in Spain. A letter of 23 November 1938 to the Administrative
Junta of the CNT Metallurgical Union confirmed that 'during my
stay at Labora I explained to the management of the factory the
road to follow for the best output'.
Articles in CNT and UGT reviews endorsed Taylorism. In
September 1937, an article entitled 'Professional Selection' in the
CNT journal, Sidero-Metalurgia, praised the research done at
Bethlehem Steel, Taylor's factory, where the optimum-sized shovel
for coal stokers was developed and employed. This shovel permit-
ted the most efficient use of the worker's strength. The article also
lauded a disciple of Taylor, H. Gantt, who had eliminated the
workers' unnecessary movements and therefore increased produc-
tivity. In addition, it argued for a careful selection of apprentices
since the metallurgical industry had some jobs demanding only
brute strength and others which needed intelligence. In May 1937,
Horizontes, the review of the CNT-UGT Collective Marathon,
formerly General Motors of Barcelona, concluded that the
American engineer had achieved 'scientific organization of work'
and had developed a system which chose the best workers for each
job in the factory. The militants of Marathon argued that the
careful selection of appropriate workers could prevent accidents
and that Taylorism should be adopted in railroads, trams, buses,
and machine shops.
CNT and UGT militants built new industries as they rationalized
the old. CNT members of the Catalan Federation of Metallurgy
sharply criticized the lack of 'progress' in the factory and under-

the misery, the lack of light, of hygiene, the same outdated tools, poor work
organization and imperfection of work because of the ineptness and poverty of
the Spanish metallurgical bourgeoisie which was always lagging behind the
bourgeoisie of other nations.52

Even in the 1930s the most important metallurgical factories in

Barcelona were still producing railroad supplies and equipment. By
1936 Spain had not yet developed a substantial motor-vehicle
industry. Many Spanish car manufacturers, for example Hispano-
Suiza, left Spain for the more favourable climate of France. In
1935 Spain imported over ninety-five percent of its automobiles.53
Seidman: Workers' Control in Barcelona, 1936-38 421

Militants were, of course, aware of this failure and dreamed of

the 'hot' Spanish car of the revolutionary future:

The cute little car (cochecito) will be constructed... to shelter two lovebirds. Its
construction will take into account the most modern advances... we will endow
it with lightning rods, aviation equipment, swimming equipment, radio, fire
alarms, and extinguishers.54

When the CNT and UGT militants took control of General Motors
in Barcelona, they embarked upon an ambitious programme to
mass-produce the national truck. The Marathon Collective
celebrated the first anniversary of the 19 July victory by displaying
the first mass-produced Marathon truck motor. Ninety different
councils and control committees which had cooperated in the con-
struction participated in the festivities. A Marathon director
praised the labour of the 12,000 workers [sic] in the Catalan
automobile industry, and stated that the production of a mass-
produced vehicle was part of 'our war for independence'.55 In
February 1937 Horizontes declared that the economic potential of a
nation could be measured by the number of motor vehicles per
inhabitant, and it hoped that the automobile would soon become
an accepted part of everyday life in Spain.
In addition to building new industries, the CNT and UGT
improved working conditions in many factories. CNT factory
councils recognized the importance of hygiene on production and
wanted to imitate modern American factories which had industrial
physicians.56 In general, lighting and safety were improved in
numerous factories. Showers and WCs were built, and clinics and
libraries were set up under both UGT and CNT auspices. Workers
received accident and health insurance with expanded coverage,
and older comrades' retirement benefits were improved. In the tex-
tile firm of Espafia Industrial, which with 1,800 workers was one of
the largest factories in Barcelona, a day-care centre was estab-
lished. Even some swimming-pools were constructed for the
workers' use.
The desire to improve working conditions and to rationalize and
modernize a backward industrial structure created a need for, even a
dependence on, technicians, and both the CNT and UGT built
schools to train them. In the Spanish Revolution traditional
anarchist and anarcho-syndicalist desires for a non-hierarchical
levelling of salaries conflicted with their wish to develop the means
422 Journal of Contemporary History

of production with the aid of scientists and technicians. The CNT's

glorification of science and technology had attracted some techni-
cians and managers into its ranks. However, others were frightened
away from the CNT by its levelling tendency, by the dominance of
blue-collar workers in its membership, and by its relative indif-
ference to Catalan nationalism. Many technicians, managers, and
particularly white-collar workers joined the UGT, which was
closely aligned with the Catalan Communist Party, the PSUC,
which supported many demands of the Catalan nationalists and
accepted large wage differentials without question.
Yet throughout the Revolution the CNT continually fought for
the support of the technicians. Juan Fabregas, one of the most
important CNT representatives in the Department of Economy of
the Generalitat, frequently paid homage to the 'technocracy as the
factor which must rule Human Society in the new evolutionary
state that we are beginning to experience'.58Available statistics con-
firm that although there was some levelling of salaries, the militants
in charge of the factories conserved appreciable differences. In
general, while the highest salaries of the directors may have been
reduced or limited, the CNT, with or without UGT participation,
significantly increased the salaries of the technicians and skilled
workers in, for instance, the dyeing and finishing branch of the
Barcelonian textile industry.59 Even in cases where salaries were
levelled, pay differentials still widened as the worker took on more
responsibility or as his technical skill increased.
In August 1937 the Technical-Administrative Council of the
CNT Building Union proposed a revision of the anarcho-
syndicalist theories on wages.60 The Council posed the following
dilemma: either restore work discipline and abolish the unified
salary or encounter disaster. The Council called for the re-
establishment of incentives for the technician and the professional.
Within many construction collectives the technicians had con-
siderable power since they not only received substantially more pay
than other workers, but they also established production quotas. In
October 1937 in its review, Luz y Fuerza, the CNT National
Federation of Water, Gas, and Electricity asserted that the Russian
Revolution had taught Spanish workers that without technicians
the Revolution was impossible. In light of the CNT's courtship of
technicians, claims by the Communist historian, Ramon Tamames,
in his La Republica: La era de Franco, that the CNT-inspired con-
traction of salaries led to a great decrease in production must be
Seidman: Workers' Control in Barcelona, 1936-38 423

qualified. The reasons for the decline must be sought elsewhere.

At the beginning of the Revolution the CNT union of the textile
and garment industry responded to a demand which it had been
making for years: the abolition of production incentives, especially
piecework, 'the principal cause of the miserable conditions' of the
workers, according to the union.61 Yet the abolition of piecework
soon came under attack by the union itself. On 9 April 1937 the
CNT Boletin de Informacion stated that in the industrial branches
where piecework had been dominant before the Revolution and
where it was now abolished, productivity had seriously declined.
The Casa Girona was one of the most significant and spectacular
examples of the problems of workers' control in the Spanish
Revolution. The Casa Girona, also known as Material para Ferro-
carriles, employed 1,800 workers and was one of the most impor-
tant metallurgical factories in Barcelona. It had made railroad
equipment before the Revolution, and after July 1936 it produced
for the war effort.62A report by the CNT-controlled factory coun-
cil of the Casa Girona to the CNT Metallurgical Union of
Barcelona declared that costs before 19 July 1936 had been 31,500
pesetas and since then had increased to 105,000 pesetas. Charges
for retired personnel rose from 688 pesetas before 19 July to 7,915
pesetas; for accidents, from 950 pesetas to 5,719; for the sick, from
0 to 3,349 pesetas. Weekly payroll costs jumped from 90,000 to
210,000. With all these cost increases a 'rather intense production'
was expected and needed. However, the factory council stated that
production had actually diminished despite the greatly improved
benefits and an increase of workers from the pre-revolutionary
1,300 to 1,800.
Girona's factory council did not believe that lengthening the
working day would solve the problem since it had already added
eight hours per week to the schedule, and the additional time had
not only failed to increase production but had not even succeeded
in stopping its decline. Thus, despite a 38 percent increase in per-
sonnel, a 233 percent increase in benefits, a 133 percent rise in
weekly paychecks, production declined by 31 percent. The council
suggested certain 'practical' measures to correct the situation: 'To
establish a war bonus which will be adjusted to completed produc-
tion' [italics in original]. According to the management of Girona,
no other solution was possible since pay increases and the establish-
ment of minimum production levels had failed. The council asked
the Metallurgical Union for authorization to establish the bonus
424 Journal of Contemporary History

and to initiate 'rigorous control' by its production committee and

engineer. The council denied that its proposals meant a return to
the 'old days of exploitation' since 'the prices of all work will be
agreed upon by those who manage and those who execute'.
Workers whose work was superior must be rewarded. If not, the
council would be discouraging initiative.
A letter written by the commission which was delegated by the
Administrative Board of the CNT Metallurgical Union to investi-
gate the 'abnormalities' at the Casa Girona confirmed the Girona
factory council's difficulties. The investigating commission
reported that a worker who received eighteen pesetas produced
thirty pieces; whereas an apprentice who received only five pesetas
produced eighty pieces in the same amount of time. According to
the commission, the workers themselves had agreed with the fac-
tory council to establish a system of piecework. The investigating
commission wrote that the new system of production incentives was
in contradiction 'fundamentally... with our most intimate convic-
tions' because the CNT had always fought against piecework.
However, the workers were carried away by their 'egoistic instincts'
and egged on by the Communist Party and the UGT. The investi-
gating commission declared despondently that the Casa Girona
would not be the last case where production necessities would con-
tradict 'our ideas of equality and liberty'. It attacked the 'uncons-
cious and irresponsible' workers who refused to produce
without a monetary incentive. The commission concluded that the
Girona council was justified in establishing piecework since 'cons-
cious workers' were a minority in the factory.
Union militants fought against absenteeism as they fought
against low productivity. Many comrades in construction were
often 'ill'. The CNT Technical Commission of Masons noted: 'the
irresponsibility of certain workers. We refer to those who fake ill-
ness and do not work, thus causing heavy economic damage to our
collectives'.63 The commission was astonished at the 'astuteness
and wickedness of the unscrupulous workers' who invented all
kinds of strategies to get sick-pay. These and other abuses 'seriously
threatened' the commission's social policies, and it demanded a
'crusade' by union delegates 'radically to stamp out the abuses'.64
Another technical commission, that of the CNT woodworkers,
established a Committee on the Sick which required a worker to
visit one of its physicians before obtaining sick-pay.65In November
1937 militants of the UGT Masons' Union charged that, in addition
Seidman: Workers' Control in Barcelona, 1936-38 425

to the excess of personnel, lack of credits, and transportation dif-

ficulties, an important reason for the 'failure' of the Construction
Amalgamation was the 'excessive sum of pesetas paid to the ill'.66
Along with absenteeism, sabotage and theft were also serious
problems. In March 1938 the CNT delegate of the Collective
MEYDO reported to the machinery section of the CNT
Metallurgical Union that sabotage was endangering the life of the
collective.67Over a long period of time, a great number of parts and
tools, valued at 50,000-60,000 pesetas, had disappeared. The Col-
lective attempted to convince the workers that these thefts were
equivalent to stealing from themselves. Persuasion failed since the
thefts continued and even increased. As a result, the Collective laid
off its workers until the stolen equipment reappeared. After two
days without work (and seemingly without pay), several workers on
their own initiative went to the home of a certain Juan Sendera
where much of the stolen equipment was found. The accused
Sendera was dismissed from the Collective MEYDO. Other collec-
tives established strict sets of rules which created guards to inspect
all packages leaving the factory and which forbade all unauthorized
The unions and factory councils were troubled by constant wage
demands from the rank and file. The CNT and UGT members of
the Control Committee of gas and electricity encountered a serious
problem early on in the Revolution. On 3 December 1936 workers
of the industry began collecting signatures demanding a joint CNT-
UGT assembly to solicit the year-end bonus.68 The reaction of the
Control Committee was one of anger. One member called the peti-
tion 'counter-revolutionary and fascist' and asked that those who
had signed it be locked up and detained. Both UGT and CNT
members of the Committee feared that the proposed assembly
would not only claim the annual bonus but might also raise the
question of salary differences among workers, technicians, and
administrators. One Control Committee member declared that the
'unions exist to direct and channel the aspirations of the masses'.
Others concluded that an assembly must be avoided at all costs.
Some feared that in an assembly 300 signatories of a petition
demanding more money could easily be joined by another 2,000 or
even 4,000 workers. A certain Garcia stated, 'Either we have no
authority over the masses or we impose it upon them'. The meeting
finally agreed to pay the bonus to avoid the assembly being formed.
Members were requested not to discuss the meeting with outsiders
426 Journal of Contemporary History

since the Committee wished to learn who had initiated and agitated
for the petition in order to take possible punitive measures against
The chemical firm Cros, one of the largest in Spain, was collecti-
vized shortly after the pronunciamiento and had a factory council
composed of three members from the CNT and three from the
UGT. Its review, Sintesis, frequently told workers to postpone
demands for salary increases and vacations. Yet a full meeting of
the collective and its unions showed that not all workers followed
Sintesis' advice. On 30 June 1937 representatives of the collective's
offices and factories in Alicante, Lerida, Valencia, and Barcelona
and delegates from fourteen different UGT and CNT unions met in
Barcelona to discuss a petition from sailors and ships' technicians
in the CNT and UGT maritime unions.69 The maritime unions
asked for back-pay for overtime and work on Sundays from
November 1935 to 19 July 1936. In other words, the sailors
demanded back pay for work done before Cros had been collecti-
vized. Both the CNT and the UGT National Federations of
Chemical Industries opposed the sailors' claim, but they hoped for
a compromise since many other sailors had received back-pay.
Other representatives opposed a compromise because of the
demands of the war and those of the collective itself. There was an
incident during the meeting when a sailors' representative,
frustrated by the long discussion, stated that if the assembly was
not in a hurry to achieve a solution, the sailors were, since a ship
was scheduled to sail shortly. Delegates interpreted the statement as
a threat, and the president of the assembly warned that the meeting
could not be coerced. Other delegates criticized the sailors for
threatening to strike and for their 'indiscipline'. A representative
from Alicante noted that the workers in his factory had gone
hungry but had still made sacrifices for the good of the collective.
The Badalona delegate protested the sailors' claims and said that
the collective could not be considered 'bourgeois' since all
agreements had been adopted by majority vote. He insisted that no
agreement could be reached until the sailors' envoys ceased
threatening to strike. The UGT maritime delegate replied that he
was not aware of any strike threat. The CNT maritime represen-
tative declared that all the sailors wanted for risking their lives at
sea was fair and equal treatment. Another delegate answered that
the collective had always given the highest consideration to its
sailors but that on occasion the sailors had refused to sail if their
Seidman: Workers' Control in Barcelona, 1936-38 427

demands were not accepted, and the factory council had often been
forced to accede. The meeting finally accepted a proposal which
delayed a solution to the problem of back-pay until economic con-
ditions permitted. Workers of other collectives often sought salary
increases to keep up with wartime inflation.
Both the CNT and the UGT engaged in an intensive propaganda
campaign to counteract wage demands, absenteeism, sabotage, and
indiscipline. In February 1937 in its Boletin, the CNT Textile Union
of Badalona, an industrial suburb of Barcelona, called on workers
to imitate stakhanovism, a movement to increase production which
had aroused 'keen enthusiasm' among Soviet workers. The CNT
review even published a photograph of the Soviet work hero.
According to Sintesis, the magazine of the Collective Cros, the
USSR was an example of 'successes obtained by rationalization and
efficient work organization'.70 In December 1937 the magazine
attacked laziness and vice and warned workers who considered
'work as a punishment' that they had better change their attitude
quickly. Sintesis praised stakhanovism and wanted to make work a
'sporting game, a noble competition' in which the victor could
achieve a great prize: 'the title of distinguished worker of produc-
tion'. In February 1937 the journal of the Marathon Collective,
Horizontes, contained an article by La Pasionaria herself which
was entitled 'Our cry: WORKER, WORK'.
Sailors were the object of special criticism. Near the end of the
war and the Revolution, the CNT Maritime Union became
extremely blunt:

The majority of workers are an inert mass who, carried by circumstances, came
to the unions because life was impossible without a union card.71

You must guess what the sailors are thinking because they are not able to express
themselves in assemblies and meetings.72

Construction workers were also condemned. In March 1938 the

CNT Building Union charged that the collectives, which had been
constructed at such a high cost, were endangered by the 'passivity,
indifference, and sabotage' of certain workers. To solve the pro-

Workers must act with energy in all cases. A person who discovers a saboteur, an
opportunist, or a slacker cannot be considered an informer or a betrayer.
428 Journal of Contemporary History

The Union will take charge of all denunciations wherever they come from and
whomever they concern.73

The unions made it clear that the workers had to build a new
society based on work. The Revolution must create a 'New Dawn'
where 'work was essential'.74 While true art and science had been
destroyed by capitalism, work was 'the only value that remains
unblemished'.75 With or without the bourgeoisie, work was the
only source of wealth.76 In January 1938 the journal of the UGT
petroleum workers, Petroleo, admonished: 'We want to make a
new society in which work and the worker will be everything.'
Petroleo bluntly stated, 'the Revolution is not a good time
(juerga)', and included a poetic homage to oil, that 'divine
essence'. For the CNT, the unions, which were based on work and
consumption, were 'diametrically opposed' to capitalism: 'The
union is the form par excellence that permits the extraction of the
maximum of efficiency and output from its members'.77
In their quest for 'maximum efficiency and output', both the
CNT and the UGT were forced to confront the problems of
absenteeism, sabotage, low productivity, and indiscipline, and both
unions reacted in analogous ways to 'solve' these conflicts.
However, although the similarity of the difficulties which con-
fronted the CNT and the UGT has been emphasized, our examina-
tion of workers' control in Barcelona cannot be completed without
discussing the tensions between the two great unions. The historical
literature has largely stressed the political and ideological dif-
ferences which separated the UGT from the CNT. Some historians
have focused on the UGT and the Catalan Communist Party pro-
gramme for nationalization or government control of industry in
opposition to the CNT's policy of collectivization or union control.
Others have pointed to the CNT and anarcho-syndicalist ambi-
valence toward political action and governmental responsibility as
opposed to the UGT and the Catalan Communist Party's will-
ingness to participate in elections and to control government.
However, as significant as these ideological and political tensions
were, the day-to-day conflicts over economic and industrial control
were equally important. The two unions constantly competed for
new members, each adherent representing new dues and increased
power. In addition, competition for available jobs was fierce, and
only those holding a union card could get them. In certain branches
where the CNT dominated, it could place its members in positions,
Seidman: Workers' Control in Barcelona, 1936-38 429

and the UGT acted similarly in firms which it controlled.78 The

rank and file would occasionally take advantage of the divisions
between the CNT and the UGT to advance its own demands. The
unions sometimes feared that the cancellation of vacations or the
establishment of an intensive working week would weaken their
position in the factory, permitting the minority union, whether
CNT or UGT, to profit from the unpopularity of the dominant
union and to attract new members.
The Spanish Revolution ended in Barcelona when Franco's
troops took Catalonia early in 1939, but workers' control was not
forgotten. When owners and managers, who had left Barcelona
during the Revolution, returned, they expressed surprise that their
businesses were in such good condition.79 The working-class
militants had even improved the backward industries which they
had inherited from a bourgeoisie which was weak both politically
and economically. The unions and factory councils had often
rationalized, standardized, and modernized production under try-
ing circumstances. They bought new machinery, improved working
conditions, built schools, and tried to eliminate a number of the
most glaring inequalities. Nevertheless, the militants' vision of a
modern Barcelona, where a nationally independent and ration-
alized industrial system was to be promoted by democratic
workers' councils, often ran into the resistance of the workers
themselves who continued to demand more pay, fake illness,
sabotage production, and reject the control and the discipline of
the factory system. The Barcelona militants were forced to con-
front the same problems that both the Western bourgeoisies and
the Communist parties, which have rapidly developed the produc-
tive forces, have also experienced.
The idea of class consciousness held by the union militants con-
flicted with that of the rank and file. For the militants, class con-
sciousness meant active and enthusiastic participation in the unions
or parties which were building 'socialism' or 'libertarian com-
munism' by rapidly developing the productive forces. However,
many workers expressed their class consciousness by continuing to
avoid the space and time of the rationalized workplace and of work
itself. This resistance to industrial work should not be attributed to
the peasant or 'pre-industrial' nature of the Barcelonian working
class since over two-thirds of the workers were Barcelonian natives
or veteran industrial labourers.80The phenomena of low produc-
tivity, indiscipline, sabotage, and indifference among workers are
430 Journal of Contemporary History

present in even the most advanced industrial societies, and these

phenomena indicate that resistance to work space and work time is
not confined only to 'developing' countries but occurs throughout
many stages of industrialization.
Historians of the Spanish Revolution have focused on the
political and ideological divisions among Communists, Socialists,
and anarcho-syndicalists and have thereby neglected the central
problem of the divorce between militants committed to a certain
vision of the future and workers who were reluctant to sacrifice to
fulfil this ideal. Therefore, the militants used coercion to force the
workers to work harder both to win the war and to build the new
society. The war merely reinforced, but did not create, the need for
coercive methods. Thus, the war was not the cause of the coercion
and repression of the rank and file but was, like the militants'
vision of the future, the result of a deeply-rooted historical process
which was characterized by the economic and political failures of
the Spanish and the Catalan bourgeoisies.
Ironically, after the defeat of the Left, Franco's governments
adopted many aspects of the militants' vision of the future. Under
Franco's rule the means of production were rationalized and
modernized. Spain strengthened its agriculture, improved its infra-
structure, and developed its industrial base. Cars began to be mass-
produced, and the anarcho-syndicalist vision of cities of large
apartment complexes and massive automobile circulation was par-
tially realized. The ability of post-war Spain to achieve what CNT
and UGT militants once dreamed of can help explain the decline of
anarcho-syndicalist and other large-scale working-class revolu-
tionary movements in present-day Spain.


I wish to thank Prof. Stanley Payne for directing me to the archives of Salamanca
and Prof. J. Amelang of the University of Florida for his suggestions.

1. Jamie Vicens Vives, An Economic History of Spain, with the collaboration of

Jorge Nadal Oiler, trans. Frances M. L6pez Morillas (Princeton, NJ 1969), 466-467.
Seidman: Workers' Control in Barcelona, 1936-38 431

2. Jaime Vicens Vives, Cataluna en el siglo XIX (Madrid 1961), 126.

3. Jordi Nadal, El fracaso de la revoluci6n industrial en Espana, 1814-1913
(Barcelona 1975), 192.
4. Ibid., 195.
5. Pau Romeva Ferrer, Hist6ria de la indtstria catalana, 2 vols. (Barcelona
1952), 2: 370.
6. Nadal, op. cit., 30-34.
7. Ibid., 93-104.
8. Ibid., 210.
9. Antoni Jutglar, Hist6ria critica de la burgesia a Catalunya (Barcelona 1972),
10. Vicens Vives, Cataluna en el Siglo XIX, 174.
11. Nadal, op. cit., 158.
12. See Pedro Gual Villabi, Memorias de un industrial de nuestro tiempo
(Barcelona 1922), for valuable insights into the Barcelona bourgeoise during the
First World War. See also Pau Vila Dinares and Lluis Casassas Sim6, Barcelona i
seva rodalia al llarg del temps (Barcelona 1974), 394.
13. Joan Sarda and Lluc Beltran, Els problemes de la banca catalana (Barcelona
1933), 22.
14. Santiago Roldan and Jose Luis Garcia Delgado, Laformaci6n de la sociedad
capitalista en Espaha, with the collaboration of Juan Mufioz, 2 vols (Madrid 1973),
15. Ibid., 106.
16. Manuel Tui6n de Lara, La Espaha del siglo XX, 1914-1939 (Paris 1973),
17. Ram6n Tamames, La Repablica: La era de Franco (Madrid 1975), 142-150.
18. See Alberto Balcells, Crisis econ6mica y agitaci6n social en Cataluia de 1930
a 1936 (Barcelona 1971), for statistics on the growing unemployment in Barcelona
during the Depression.
19. Gabriel Jackson, The Spanish Republic and the Civil War, 1931-1939
(Princeton, NJ 1967), 94.
20. Paul Combe, Niveau de vie et progres technique en France (1860-1939) (Paris
1956), 320.
21. Vicens Vives, An Economic History of Spain, 621.
22. Stanley G. Payne, Falange (Stanford, Ca. 1967), 2.
23. Angel Marvaud, La question sociale en Espagne (Paris 1910), 289.
24. Miguel Martinez Cuadrado, La burguesia conservadora (1874-1931) (Madrid
1978), 111.
25. E. Pinilla de la Heras, Los empresarios y el desarrollo capitalista (Barcelona
1968), 156.
26. Tamames, op. cit., 143.
27. Estadisticas bdsicas de Espana, 1900-1970 (Madrid 1975), 430-431.
28. Jaume Aiguader i Mir6, El problema de l'habitaci6 obrera a Barcelona
(Barcelona 1932).
29. Georges Sorel, Reflexions sur la violence (Paris 1972), 320.
30. Diego Abad de Santillan, El anarquismo y la revoluci6n en Espaha: Escritos
1930-38, ed. Antonio Elorza (Madrid 1976), 280-296.
31. Ibid., 96.
32. Ibid., 125.
432 Journal of Contemporary History

33. Ibid., 172.

34. Angel Pestafia, Normas orgdnicas (Barcelona 1930), 18.
35. Juan L6pez, C6mo organizard el sindicato a la sociedad (Barcelona n.d.), 5.
36. Ibid., 6-7.
37. Issac Puente, Finalidad de la CNT: el comunismo libertario (Barcelona 1936),
38. Diego Abad de Santillan, El organismo econ6mico de la Revoluci6n: C6mo
vivimos y como podriamos vivir en Espana (Barcelona 1938), 169-180.
39. Ibid., 36, 180.
40. Agustin Souchy and Paul Folgare, Colectivizaciones: La obra constructiva de
la revolucion espaiola (Barcelona 1977), 75.
41. Enrique Diumar6 y Mim6, El problema industrial textil: el maquinismo y la
cuestidn social (Barcelona 1939), 26.
42. Statistics in carpeta 1426, Servicios Documentales, Salamanca [hereafter
known as SD].
43. A. Perez, 'La concentraci6n industrial', CNTMaritima, 15 September 1938.
44. Boletin del Sindicato de la Industria Fabril y Textil de Badalona y su Radio,
May 1937.
45. Hoy, December 1937.
46. Solidaridad Obrera, 4 September 1937.
47. Josep Maria Bricall, Politica econ6mica de la Generalitat (1936-1939), 2 vols.
(Barcelona 1978), 1: 224.
48. Sidero-Metalurgia, September 1937.
49. This paragraph is based on c. 871, SD, and on information provided by Sr.
Raphael Pujol.
50. See Georges Friedmann, Le Travail en miettes (Paris 1964), and David F.
Noble, America by Design (New York 1977).
51. Letters in c. 887, SD.
52. Sidero-Metalurgia, July 1937.
53. L'industrie automobile, F128797, Archives Nationales, Paris.
54. Sidero-Metalurgia, August 1937.
55. Horizontes, June-July 1937. The 12,000 figure may have been too high since
Sidero-Metalurgia, October 1937, reported only 4,250 workers in the automobile
56. Boletin del Sindicato de la Industria Fabril y Textil de Badalona y su Radio,
June 1937.
57. Souchy and Folgare, op. cit., 102.
58. Juan Fabregas quoted in Boletin del Sindicato de la Industria Fabril y Textil
de Badalona y su Radio, June 1937.
59. C. 626, SD.
60. Boletin del Sindicato de la Industria de la Edificacidn, Madera y Decoraci6n,
10 August 1937.
61. C. 163, SD.
62. The following paragraphs concerning the Casa Girona closely follow letters in
c. 1186, SD.
63. Boletin del Sindicato de la Industria de la Edificacion, Madera y Decoracion,
10 November 1937.
64. Ibid.
65. Ibid.
Seidman: Workers' Control in Barcelona, 1936-38 433

66. Minutes of the UGT Masons' Union, c. 1051, SD.

67. This paragraph closely follows the letter in c. 854, SD.
68. This paragraph is based on the minutes of the Control Committee, c. 181-182,
69. This paragraph closely follows the minutes of the Cros assembly, c. 1421,
70. Sintesis, January 1937.
71. CNTMaritima, 11 June 1938.
72. Ibid., 15 August 1938.
73. Boletin del Sindicato de la Industria de la Edificacion, Madera y Decoracion,
15 March 1938.
74. Sidero-Metalurgia, September 1937.
75. Hoy, December 1937.
76. Ibid., January 1938.
77. Sidero-Metalurgia, October 1937.
78. C. 1051-1052, SD.
79. See La Espaha Industrial: Libro del centenario (Barcelona 1947), 69; Alberto
del Castillo, La Maquinista Terrestrey Maritima: Personaje hist6rico (1855-1955)
(Barcelona 1955), 508.
80. Cf. Peter Stearns, Revolutionary Syndicalism and French Labor: A Cause
without Rebels (New Brunswick, NJ 1971), 103: 'Syndicalism could be a roaring
success where, as in Catalonia, ex-peasants, already aggrieved by rural hardship and
injustice, were newly exposed to industry and looked to an idealized past.' Other
historians have characterized Spanish anarcho-syndicalism as 'primitive' or

Michael Seidman
has recently completed his doctoral
dissertation for the University of
Amsterdam. He is the author of 'The Birth
of the Weekend and the Revolts against
Work: The Workers of the Paris Region
during the Popular Front (1936-38)',
French Historical Studies, Fall 1981.