Zara shop workers protest outside Spanish stores after record profit

By Thomson Reuters Mar 22, 2024 | 9:34 AM

By Corina Pons

MADRID (Reuters) – Workers from Zara, Bershka and other clothing stores owned by fashion giant Inditex protested outside their shops across Spain on Friday to demand better conditions after the group reported record profits and raised shareholder payouts.

Outside the flagship Bershka store on Madrid’s iconic Gran Via boulevard, demonstrators, mainly women, shouted: “That much profit is our sacrifice,” among other slogans. Other protests were held in seven cities including Barcelona and Seville.

“Inditex is the company with the highest profits (in the sector) and if you want the workers to be well off, those profits have to be shared,” said Carolina Albarran, 50, who has worked at Zara for 33 years.

Inditex shares hit a record high after it reported a 5.4 billion euros annual profit last week, and said it would boost its dividend payout by 28%.

Zara and its sister brands such as Stradivarius and Massimo Dutti employ 28,000 shopworkers in Spain, the company’s home market, which accounted for 14.8% of its 36 billion euros ($38.94 billion) worth of sales in the year to January 2024.

Spain’s two main trade unions, UGT and CCOO, backed the protests in the run-up to the Easter holidays. The shops stayed open as usual while workers gathered outside their regular shift hours.

Inditex declined to comment, but a union leader showed a letter from the company expressing interest in discussing the demands of all shop workers in April.

The unions want the retailer to offer more hours for part-time employees and a minimum number of weekends off a year for all staff, an extra bonus for workers with more than four years’ service and other benefits.

Last year, Inditex increased wages for shopworkers in Spain by around 20%, and it has agreed to renew a one-off bonus of 1,000 euros this year. Globally, salaries of 161,281 Inditex employees rose by 9% in 2023, reaching an average of 28,726 euros per year, according to its annual report.

($1 = 0.9245 euros)

(Reporting by Corina Pons; Editing by David Latona and Peter Graff)