Profits, wages and workers standard of living in a basque iron and steel company (1 902-1927). A first approach


  • Emiliano Fernández de Pinedo



Altos Hornos de Vizcaya" was, in the first quarter of the nineteenth century, the biggest iron and steel works and one of the main Spanish firms. The data supplied by its accounting and the deliberations of the Board of Managers are therefore very significant for the iron and steel, sector and for a large part of the industrial sector as well. Thanks to investments, tariff protection and a set of national and international agreements with other firms of the sector in order to restrict competition, “Altos Hornas de Vizcaya” was able to distribute, from 1902 to 1917, an average dividend near to 14 per cent, although the Board of Mangers benefited more than the mass of shareholders. Taking the evolution of the average day by wage as general indicator of the whole, the workers' incomes grew smoothly from 1902 to 1915, and increased sharply afterwards, especially since 1919. 1n 1927, the average wage trebled that of 1902, though the real wage was hardly had increased. And in the same way as not all the shareholders got the same benefits, the modest improvements in real wage were not evenly distributed among the different professional categories.