This article explores how repression and everyday conflicts at the workplace were connected with labor rights and trade unionism in two authoritarian regimes. It focuses on worker and labor activists’ media in Francoist Spain and in state socialist Poland during the years 1965–68 and 1977–79, respectively. Spanish and Polish workers both lacked the right to join and form independent trade unions, the right to free assembly and association, and the right to strike. At the same time, they faced comparable problems in their everyday working lives, including low salaries, excessive overtime, incompetent management, and deficits in safety and hygiene standards. In this context, (illegal) magazines for workers emerged. They provided new arenas for exchanging experiences, advertised strike actions all across the country, called for united action, and explained national legislation and global labor norms. Based on an analysis of Spanish and Polish workers’ publications, this contribution investigates how labor activists in these states addressed day-to-day problems and the constant violations of internationally binding labor norms.

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