It was here in the La Prosperitat neighbourhood that the Harry Walker factory was located, which became a symbol of the worker's fight against francoism in the 1970s. Its workers were at the centre of a two-month strike that prompted displays of solidarity from local residents and even workers from other countries.
Autoaccesoris Harry Walker, a British company dedicated to manufacturing spare parts for cars, had factories in several countries. The Barcelona factory was installed in Passeig Valldaura in 1957 and had a workforce of nearly 500 at the start of the 1970s.
The first stoppage by workers took place in September 1970, as a consequence of the factory’s appalling health conditions. The result was disciplinary action against one worker with two months’ suspension and forty reprimands against other colleagues. The stoppages and protests continued, calling for the suspension of all disciplinary actions and for a raise of 3,000 pesetas a month. The company never once showed itself open to dialogue and continued its reprisals until 17 December when the police arrested nine workers as they were entering the factory to work. The following day a further four workers were fired and the police entered the factory with five cars, two coaches and several mounted patrols, forcing the workers to leave the facilities.
The workers then decided to meet up every morning by the factory’s gate, while the disciplinary actions were increasing. The stoppage at the Harry Walker factory continued. Support for the strike spread through Barcelona and abroad, where workers from other companies linked to Harry Walker made their protests felt. Numerous French and Italian newspapers published information on the Barcelona strike, and workers at the Italian factory in Turin declared a boycott of all products intended for Spain's factories. However, the repression continued and a further three workers were arrested on 14 January.
The 14 workers given the sack and the 253 others who were suspended without pay lodged a civil action, and the Industrial Tribunal ruled that they had been unfairly dismissed. Despite the fact that Francoist legislation refused to recognise the right to strike, the judge interpreted the indefinite suspension meted out by the company to be the equivalent to a constructive dismissal.
The Harry Walker strike lasted until 15 February 1971 (62 days), achieving a raise of 1,000 pesetas per month and the elimination of casual work contracts. It constituted a workers’ protest model based on forms of direct democracy. The workers, who met up in an assembly, opted to mobilise themselves without direct support from parties or clandestine unions.
The Harry Walker factory was moved to Polinyà towards the end of the 1970s. In 1975 the La Prosperitat Local Residents’ Association proposed that the grounds of the old factory should be dedicated to social services, which is what eventually happened. Today the site houses the Institut Sant Andreu, the CEIP Santiago Rusiñol [infants and primary school], the Poliesportiu Valldaura [multi-sports centre] and the CAP Rio de Janeiro, which surround a square with a pergola and ornamental fountain.
Address: Passeig de Valldaura, 249-259 || Coordinates: (LAT, LONG): 41.441019000, 2.182081000