The end of the longest-lasting strike in Europe with 26% increases and 9,450 euros for each striker

Mar 30, 2023
Novaltia is a cooperative distribution company of pharmaceutical products with registered address in Zaragoza, with two work centres in Bizkaia. 20 workers started an indefinite strike in July, 2019 aimed at reaching an agreement to improve their working conditions and eliminate the low salaries and discriminations being suffered by the most vulnerable group of workers.

After 3 years and 8 months on strike, the strike committee at Novaltia and ELA have reached an agreement with the company’s management that has brought an end to the action. The following points are the most relevant contents of the agreement that has brought an end to the longest-lasting strike in Europe:


1) An end of strike agreement is formalised which, for the first time in the company, regulates working conditions that are an improvement to the contents of the State sectorial collective bargaining agreement.

  • The Agreement contains application guarantees that prevent the company from modifying the conditions agreed upon.

  • Regarding wages, the bonuses received by the Bizkaia workforce that were above the sectorial agreement are maintained and an agreement has been reached to incorporate a set minimum complement for the most vulnerable group of workers and a versatility bonus and another transport bonus for all the workers affected by the agreement.

  • These wage raises mean an average increase for the workforce of 26.7%, reaching a 33.7% rise for the lowest wages.

2) An end has been agreed on regarding all the legal proceedings by way of a transactional agreement between the company and the people on strike that means:

  • Protection against any possible termination steps regarding the improvements in the possible compensation until the end of 2025.

  • The company has undertaken in writing to not carry out any reprisals or disciplinary steps – such as dismissals or sanctions, for any action related directly or indirectly to the strike.

  • The possibility of voluntary incentivised redundancies.

  • An amount for damages to be paid to each worker on strike that reaches a sum of 9,450 euros per person.

  • Novaltia will compensate ELA for a sum of 1345 euros (1 euro for every day of the strike).

ELA considers the agreement to be very positive for the people who decided to organise themselves and fight in 2019. The strike has gone on for much longer than the workforce and the trade union itself wanted. During this time, events have occurred that have meant an extension of the conflict. The terrible action by the Work Inspection, which has been denounced by ELA many times must be taken into account. There have also been sentences of all kinds always related to the infringement of the right to strike, for which Novaltia has been sentenced on 10 different occasions. Additionally, until recent months, the company has shown no willingness to negotiate.

This substantial improvement in the working conditions has been upheld by the strength and commitment of the strikers, with daily demonstrations in front of the cooperative’s pharmacies and work centres. ELA would also like to emphasise the essential work by the trade union’s strike fund that fed the union members through their union dues. Without the fund and the supportiveness of the trade union members, this agreement which improves wage conditions significantly, would not have been reached.