Spain’s top-flight female players have agreed to strike for the opening two matchdays of Liga F over a long-running dispute on pay and employment rights.
Spain won the Women’s World Cup by beating England 1-0 on August 20 but there will likely now be no fixtures in the country’s female top flight until the weekend of September 30 at the earliest.
A plan to strike was announced on Friday last week. Players’ Union AFE said it came after “a year of negotiations” that left them “facing the impossibility of reaching an agreement with authorities”.
After meeting at the headquarters of the Interconfederal Service of Mediation and Arbitration (SIMA) for the second day in a row on Wednesday, the five unions that represent the players decided that the strike will go ahead.
The players were asking for an improvement on the existing minimum yearly wage of €16,000. They asked for a minimum salary of €25,000 this season, and for €30,000 next season.
Liga F proposed an increase to €18,000, with further gradual rises that would take that sum to €25,000 in three seasons. The offer also included benefits such as childcare assistance for players’ children during training, specific spaces for breastfeeding and bursaries for studies.
During Wednesday’s meeting, Liga F made another proposal: a €20,000 minimum wage, with a promise to review that figure again if this season Liga F generates more than €8million in commercial profit, in which case it would rise to €23,000.
“The unions believe that any points agreed in a collective agreement should not be made conditional on the commercial achievements of a company, because a worker’s rights are not a commercial asset,” the FUTPRO union said in a statement issued on Thursday.
FUTPRO said the unions and the players decided to lower their aspirations to €23,000 with the possibility of reaching €25,000 if this season’s profit exceeds €8million.
It said Liga F stood firm on its latest offer and the players have therefore decided to strike for the first two rounds of the 2023-24 season.
However, Liga F side UDG Tenerife said they would still be travelling to Sevilla for their planned fixture on Friday, “despite the planned strike”.
This dispute dates back to October 2018, when negotiations first began over improving salary and working conditions.
Some 16 months later, in February 2020, a collective agreement was finally signed that satisfied both sides and set the €16,000 minimum wage.
Players had gone on strike on matchday 9 of the 2019-20 season, and threatened further action, before the agreement was reached, the first such deal in the history of Spanish women’s football.
The opening weekend of the 2022-23 Liga F season was also suspended after match officials went on strike over working conditions.
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