H&M shopworkers in Spain extend strike for two days early July

An H&M sign is seen at the entrance to an H&M store in Palma on the island of Mallorca

MADRID (Reuters) - Shop assistants at Swedish fashion retailer H&M in Spain extended a three-day strike planned in late June to demand pay raises into two more days in early July, unions said on Friday.

The strikes, called by the CCOO and UGT trade unions, were scheduled for June 20, 22 and 26 and workers have now decided to walk out on July 1 and 8 as well, in the middle of H&M's summer sales season.

"The strike is extended because negotiations are blocked," said union leader Maria de los Angeles Rodriguez.

Around 95 of the 125 H&M stores in Spain were closed on June 22 as 80% of the 4,000 shop assistants walked out on the second day of the strike, according to a statement from the two unions.

The flagship store in Gran Via, in downtown Madrid, had to shut.

The workers decided to protest after a months-long wage negotiations failed to yield an agreement. Workers claim H&M paid less than its major competitors, including main rival Zara, which is owned by Inditex.

H&M declined to comment on the workers' demands but said it "respects the rights of employees to express themselves freely".

Earlier this year, Inditex agreed to a 20% rise in average wages for shop workers in its home market of Spain in response to workers' demands for higher pay to offset soaring consumer prices.

"The company wants to discuss other issues, but now is the time to resolve the problems raised by the workers, such as wages and the enormous workload," said Lucia Trenor, another union leader.

Spain accounts for 3.7% of H&M's global 106,000 shop workforce, 75% of whom are women, according to its 2022 annual report.

(Reporting by Corina Pons, editing by Inti Landauro and Louise Heavens)