Sabotage and management of labor conflicts in the Spanish railway companies (1910-1912)

By Francisco de los Cobos Arteaga, Tomás Martínez Vara

The aim of this paper is to analyze how acts of sabotage associated with labour conflicts were managed in the two main Spanish railway companies (Norte and MZA) during the period between the French rail strike of October 1910 and the great conflicts in the Spanish rail sector in 1912. The paper also explores the connections between business management in France and Spain, because the two railway companies had their capital deposited in Paris, from where the strategic decisions on business and labour relations were adopted.The methodology of the study is based on a systematic review of the existing international literature about sabotage in companies, particularly in the railway sector. The main source is the minutes of the different committees of the Spanish railway companies, with special attention paid to their committees in Paris. Archival records of both companies were also reviewed.The conclusions emphasize that the workers’ demands and their methods of struggle, including sabotage, spread from France to Spain. There was a different management of conflict in the two major Spanish railway companies: one of them (MZA) acted in close collaboration with Paris. Acts of sabotage in the Spanish network were lower in number than those registered in France, because preventive strategies had been carried out. In any case, in both countries the workers obtained many of the improvements they had demanded.

  • sabotage
  • railways
  • labour conflicts
  • business management
  • transport networks
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