Strike Clubs are a way to build solidarity – Holly Turner

The aim of the Strike Clubs is to help turn “clicktivism” into on the ground activism.

Holly Turner

By Holly Turner

Last September during the biggest wave of Industrial Action since the 1980’s, Strike Map launched national Strike Clubs. The purpose of the clubs was to provide a vehicle for agitation and organisation for workers across all sectors. Having mapped thousands of walkouts since it was formed in 2020, Strike Map was in an ideal position to help people plan and coordinate visits to these pickets.

The aim of the clubs was to help turn “clicktivism” into on the ground activism. Throughout the course of the pandemic, we became dependent on various forms of digital organising, and whilst this was invaluable when we couldn’t meet face to face, we are now back in a place where we can link people together in the real world, and a national network of strike clubs has been fantastic in kick starting this. The clubs can be the digital mechanism for people to link up, and then develop and escalate activity locally.

The Strike Clubs are not just a tool for organising strikes; they are a way to build solidarity and mutual aid among workers. They provide a space where workers can share information and resources, support each other during tough times, and build networks of trust and collaboration. This kind of collective action and mutual aid is at the heart of avision for society, where the needs of the many are put ahead of the interests of the few.

One of the original aims of Strike Map was to encourage workers in their struggle and to show workers that they are not alone. As we suffer against a brutal cost of living crisis and attacks on our pay and conditions, one thing we can rely on is solidarity amongst working people, so it makes sense to build on this and form links locally which ensure that those standing on the pickets know they are supported. As the old saying goes, an injury to one is an injury to all and standing together on the picket line is one way of showing this.

Strike Map now has over 90, 000 workplaces in dispute in our database. These include people from all walks of life. Rail workers, posties, teachers, lecturers, dockers, local government staff, exam board employees and criminal barristers are among the hundreds of thousands of workers who have taken industrial action following more than a decade of Tory austerity pay and attacks on jobs and working conditions. Strike Clubs are the chance to link these struggles together.

One of the most exciting features of Strike Clubs so far has been seeing people meet up to show solidarity. For anyone who hasn’t yet been to visit striking workers it may seem quite daunting at first so we recommend people go along with comrades. The atmosphere on the picket line is energising and gives other workers optimism that they can organise to escalate the fight back too. Of course, we see engagement across all sectors peak when there are active ballots and strikes, but we want to harness that energy and build sustainable networks of people to prevent all responses to Government attacks being reactive.

Strike Clubs aren’t just about picket line visits though. As the Strike Clubs have develop, we are keen to see local activists take them to the next level. Something which has already happened in some places where activity levels are high. A recent fundraiser organised by a Strike Club South East raised hundreds of pounds for NHS Strike Funds and these are the kind of solidarity events we hope to see continuing to build, along with people supporting their Trades Councils on pickets and at demos.

We would also encourage our strike clubs to get involved in other solidarity actions such as Organise Now’s May Day guerrilla organising day. This follows on from Organise Now’s first ever guerrilla organising day last years supporting the #BaristasUnited campaign by UNITE Hospitality. Volunteers on that day distributed over 2,500 leaflets, signed up 55 volunteers and alongside UNITE and BFAWU had actions in 50 towns and cities in the UK.

Another opportunity is the Trouble Maker’s Conference happening this summer in Manchester. This important one-day event will bring together workers who have won improvements at work, taken strike action, and transformed weak unions into a strong voice for workers. The event has a rank-and-file orientation with workers learning together about how to: win a pay rise, change something about their workplace, start a union at work, or kickstart an existing union at work!

The conference is organised by a democratic committee, without affiliation to political parties or particular unions. We are proudly supported by some serious organisations trying to build the most powerful workers movement possible, already including Workers Can Win! Strike Map and Organise Now! Strike clubs members will hopefully attend and cascade this knowledge to the members of the club who cannot attend in person.

With the support of Strike Club coordinators across 17 clubs in total, we hope to see increasing amounts of people growing local groups, which will also be part of a national network of education, solidarity, and practical work which we can do together. There is no limit to what we can achieve when we stand together and we only have to look at industrial activity over the past year to see that. We have seen significant wins across sectors, and these would not have been achieved without strikers knowing they had significant support behind them encouraging them to hold the line and demand proper pay, with safe and fair working conditions.

Working people are in the fight of their lives against this Government and linking up struggles is a crucial part of organising and mobilising.

Featured image: Strikers from the PCS Northern region outside the PCS Newcastle office on March 15th, 2023. Photo credit: PCS Union/Twitter

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