POUM 1936

The Collectivization of the Vilardell Stores

Source: La Révolution Espagnole, First year, no. 10, November 18, 1936;
Translated: from the original for marxists.org by Mitchell Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) marxists.org 2011.

We have had the chance to study in situ the functioning of one of the largest commercial firms of our city, the former Vilardell, S.A., today a socialized enterprise managed by a committee of fourteen comrades, who chose from among them a secretary and three assistants charged with ongoing management.

It was on September 9 that the committee decided to accept the credits and debits of the company and to pursue its management. It offered the directors of the enterprise, the brothers Vilardell, and in particular the founder of the enterprise, Comrade Francisco Vilardell, the opportunity to continue to provide technical collaboration.

The Vilardell socialized enterprise includes, aside from the central house, four stores in Barcelona. In all it employs 350 workers, male and female.

The comrades who greeted us and facilitated our information gathering work informed us of the great accomplishments to come and those already effected thanks to the considerable increase in the purchasing power of the masses.

Inviting us into the office that serves as the committee’s meeting room they informed us of the works realized in the social order. It must be said that these are the ones that were dearest to their hearts.

They told us: “In cooperation with other socialized enterprises we've set up an exchange service from which our comrades will greatly benefit. A school for the children of the workers will function at all times. It will be set up on the third and fourth floors of our central store, will have the most up to date materials, and be placed under the control of the CENU. We are also going to set up a nursery for the youngest children, as well as evening classes for our comrades who want to improve themselves technically or learn foreign languages like English mad French.

We also envisage the creation of a canteen where their children can eat.”

Our comrades then spoke to us about the plan for social assistance relating to the pension funds that must be paid by the collective. “It was decided,” they told us, “that all employees with twenty-five years’ service can retire with a pension of one-half their salary. Aged fifty-five years they'll benefit from a pension equal to seventy-five percent of their salary. Retirement will be mandatory at age sixty and salaries will be paid in their entirety.

“Pensions were also established for cases of partial or total disability. We are already paying three of our comrades who've reached sixty complete pensions, as well as a pension to a comrade who has been sick for sixteen months but who we hope will soon get better and return to us.

“We have already given the antifascist militias, in equipment and various products, goods worth 25,000 pesetas. We must also point out that twenty-five of our comrades are currently fighting in the antifascist militias.

“We have also provided our garment workshops with the most modern materiel. Take the clothing workshop as an example; there are thirty-eight sewing machines which before socialization were activated with a pedal. We have motorized them.

“These are small examples of the improvements we've made in our enterprise. A concerns hygiene and cleanliness we have installed toilets and showers and we are in the process of proceeding to a total reorganization of our warehouse and dispatch services, where the personnel worked under deplorable conditions with neither comforts nor hygiene, where there was no air and where they had to work entire days by artificial light.”

Let us add that we then visited the installations, from the various stores to the warehouses and workshops, and we everywhere noted the most perfect order and activity joined to a good humor that can only exist among workers working for themselves, for the collective, and not for the selfish profit of a few capitalists. Our comrades informed us of their intention to open new branches, to extend ever wider the field of their activity for the greater good of all.

Bravo, comrades! Forward, and construct the society of tomorrow!