When Votorantim was bought by Antonio Pereira Ignacio, the company was going through a complicated period that involved financial difficulties and dealing with the striking factory worker. Among its demands, among other issues, was the equalization of wages between men and women of the same function – thus showing the importance of women as a work force in the early 20th century. Historical data indicate that almost 60% of the workforce came from women in the country’s fledgling industries.
Looms section of Fábrica de Tecidos Votorantim, s. d.
We cannot forget that at the beginning of the 20th century, Brazil was a country that had recently achieved the status of a republic, coming from an imperial experience with strong support in slave labor. With that, little or no regularization, as far as work was concerned, existed in the country.
After the strike agreement, subsequent improvements in conditions at the plant were reflected in the production of the plant and the evolution of the sector. In just a few years, Votorantim reached the position of the main textile firm in the State of São Paulo and one of the largest in Brazil, ranking second in terms of the amount of capital invested and production – and the women workers at Votorantim were fundamental to this achievement.
Looms section of the Votorantim Fabric Factory, 1930s
In the following historical document, part of the Votorantim Memory collection, we have the strike agreement signed by Votorantim with its workers, guaranteeing, among other rights, equal pay for men and women with the same function.
Strike Agreement, May 21, 1919
Votorantim and the fashion world
Votorantim, as one of the main fabric producers in the country, sponsored in 1958 FENIT – National Textile Industry Fair. The fair was the first step towards the popularization of fashion shows in the country. The images below show the parades of the 5th edition of the fair, at Ibirapuera Park, in São Paulo.