When Workers Take Action Together, They Create a Better World – Rob Poole, Stike Map

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“We have seen strikes lead to significant improvements in working conditions and pay. Collective action by educators during the height of the Covid pandemic saw the government forced into embarrassing U-turn after U-turn.”

By Rob Poole, Strike Map

Strike Map was launched in 2019, initially, to simply track strikes around Britain. It was designed to fill a gap in the collective history of the working-class struggle by providing information on the issues that workers are striking for and the location of strikes.

Since then, Strike Map has become a powerful reminder of the power of collective action. It shows that when workers take action together, they can achieve great things. And in recent years, we have seen strikes lead to significant improvements in working conditions and pay.

In the United Kingdom, there has been a resurgence of strike action in the past year. Last year, thousands of railway workers went on strike in protest against job cuts and pay freezes. The strike caused widespread disruption to train services, and it put industrial action firmly back on the agenda. Unfortunately the government rather than seeking to negotiate with the unions instead blocked negotiations and paid train companies for their losses.

The strike action by railway workers is just one example of the growing power of worker activism in the UK. In recent months, there have also been strikes by teachers, nurses, and postal workers. These strikes are a sign that workers are fed up with low pay and poor working conditions. They are also a sign that workers are willing to take action to improve their lives.

The history of the labour movement is full of examples of workers who have used collective action to improve their lives. In the United Kingdom, for example, the labour movement played a major role in winning the eight-hour workday, the minimum wage, and the National Health Service.

In recent years, we have seen strikes lead to significant improvements in working conditions and pay. Collective action by educators during the height of the Covid pandemic saw the government forced into embarrassing U-turn after U-turn. The fact that the NEU forced the physical closure of school buildings no doubt saved countless lives.

Last year we also saw strike action lead to inflation busting pay rises in many industries and commitments to protect pay, terms and conditions in others. These are just a few examples of the power of collective action. When workers take action together, they can make a difference in their own lives and in the lives of others.

In recent years, we have seen a resurgence of worker activism around the world. This is due in part to the growing inequality between the rich and the poor. The gap between the wages of the highest-paid workers and the wages of the lowest-paid workers has been growing for decades. We’ve seen the biggest strikes in history take place in India, mass demonstrations in France against anti-worker legislation and grassroots workers in the US make inroads into previously un-unionised industries.

At the same time we’ve seen businesses extracting billions from workers. This, not the mythical wage, price spiral is what has led to the cost of living crisis.

In addition to the growing inequality, the global economy has also changed in ways that have made it more difficult for workers to bargain for better wages and working conditions. Many companies have moved their operations to countries with lower wages and fewer labour protections. This has made it easier for companies to exploit workers and to avoid paying them a fair wage.

In response to these challenges, workers must become more international. Strike Map is in the process of making big changes that will allow us to expand overseas in the future. We’ve already been in contact with workers in other countries who are keen to create their own strike maps and last year saw our first strike plotted in the south of the island of Ireland.

The working class is back and we’re saying enough is enough but at the same time we have seen a decline in trade union membership in Britain. This is why campaigns, like our sister group Organise Now, are so important. We must continue to organise the unorganised and we must continue to agitate within our own workplaces but also within our unions.

Strike Map is a small part of what must be a bigger picture. Our strike clubs now have hundreds of members who visit picket lines and set up fundraisers for strikers. It is a small part but It is also a reminder that when workers take action together, they can create a better world for all of us.


The Save Our Schools Carnival in Trafalgar Square as part of the day of strike action on Budget day, March 15th, 2023. Photo credit: NEU/Twitter

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