From the 1951 Strike to the Catalanist Challenge of 1960
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The spontaneous popular movement which began with a boycott of the Barcelona trams and continued with a general strike in March 1951 was the most important and widespread to occur during the first twenty years of the Franco régime. The rise in fares on the Barcelona trams, while those in Madrid remained unchanged, was perceived of as a flagrant piece of injustice and sparked off so much protest that the authorities withdrew the increase. The ensuing twenty-four hour general strike was mercilessly crushed, but it brought to light the unease of the working classes after over ten years of electricity restrictions, high prices, housing shortages, rationing of basic foods, and black-market racketeering. It also showed that workers opposed to the régime had infiltrated the base of the ‘vertical union’ and all but taken over the Falangist movement since the call for a general strike had come from an assembly of 2000 official union delegates. The experience of the 1951 tram boycott, which had forced a return to the previous fare scale and caused the fall of a mayor and a civil governor, lived on in the memory of the Catalans. This explains the attempt to stage a new boycott in January 1957, though the second one did not succeed in making the authorities give in.
KeywordsCollective Bargaining Housing Shortage General Strike Electricity Restriction Assembly Hall
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