“As well as challenges there have also been victories, workers took on Rolls Royce in the epic Battle of Barnoldswick, securing the future of not only their plant but their community.”
By Robert Poole and Henry Fowler, Strike Map UK co-founders
As we come to the end of 2021 Strike Map celebrates some milestones. One year ago this week we launched our map, a worker powered attempt to record industrial action taking place across the UK. We began with a very simple map and a free wordpress site. We have now, to date, logged 150 strikes across the country.
None of this would be possible without trade union members, reps and officers who take the time to submit their strikes to the map, send updates and send solidarity messages.
Since then our vision has expanded, in the spirit of the worker enquiries of yesteryear we wanted to feature authentic voices from across the movement. To give voice to the oft maligned workers taking action. This led to the launch of our strike stories section of the site and later to the launch of our short series “Comrades” which brought together rank and file workers from across the movement.
150 strikes may sound like a lot and Trade union membership is on the rise for the fourth year in a row but this country has a long way to go and a lot still to learn. Since 1979 the days lost to strike action has fallen 98% and trade union density stands at less than 25% with the private sector even worse represented.
Since the days of the First International the trade union movement has thrived when it is united. Not only within this country but across the world. The rise of Covid has brought many challenges but also made us aware of the amazing new technologies at our disposal. With this in mind we launched our international book club in conjunction with Pluto Books which had over ten thousand views on YouTube. Drawing together comrades from across the globe to discuss how and why they went on strike.
As well as challenges there have also been victories, workers took on Rolls Royce in the epic Battle of Barnoldswick, securing the future of not only their plant but their community.
Cleaners, members of the United Voices of the World union (UVW) working at the La Retraite Catholic girls’ school in South West London secured a massive 24% pay rise through their strike action.
We are also seeing action taking place in places where it was once thought to be impossible. In the fragmented world of zero hours platform workers. A wave of delivery driver strikes are currently crippling the ability of McDonalds to provide a home delivery service. Hitting them where it hurts, their bottom line. Showing that we have the ability to stand up for ourselves when they try to bleed us dry and extract yet more surplus value from an already exploited workforce.
As we enter 2022 and Covid is still an ever present shadow across the world we can expect to see more action as bad bosses pass on the costs to the workers and the government uses it as an excuse to enact yet more authoritarian legislation. We envisage Strike Map playing a central role in the fight back and demanding a new deal for workers. Safe workplaces, fair pay and secure work.
It has been a great first year, but the work is not finished. We have not logged every strike and stories go untold. For that we need you. We need you to use www.strikemap.co.uk to send messages of solidarity. To visit picket lines. To add your own strikes. We have made a start but now it’s up to you. This is your map and there is still a world to win.
Robert Poole and Henry Fowler
Strike Map UK co-founders