A roadsign pointing left with the words strike on it.
Image credit via Nick Youngson, Creative Commons.

With the Climate Strikes and UCU action marking the start of 2020, the role of strikes has come to the forefront of conversations in the UK and beyond. This list brings together a number of books about unions and striking as well as some short articles and video on the topic. Whether you want to organise a strike, or just learn more, we hope this list will provide a starting point.

Strikes – Five Books

Riot. Strike. Riot. by Joshua Clover. This book attempts to situate a theory of riots and strikes within the history of the global political economy. Most importantly, it attempts to understand how different crises feed into different popular responses.

A Collective Bargain by Jane McAlevey. Building a union and convincing it to strike is one of the most difficult tasks many face in a workplace. However, McAlevey has spent years not just explaining how to build such power, but also how unions are important for a healthy society. This recently released work brings together this thinking in a clear and accessible way.

A People’s History of the World by Chris Harman. This large and wide-ranging work of history attempts to analyse the history of people, as opposed to the narratives of great men. As a result, it has many references to worldwide strike movements and their role in global history.

Germinal by Émile Zola. A classic novel focused on strikes and riots in a mining town in the north of France. Written in the late 1800s it gives a unique snapshot into early cultural depictions of strike action and those who organise it.

Carbon Democracy by Timothy Mitchell. A history of the politics and economics of the transition from coal to oil as the lead fuel in the global economy. It highlights how different elements of oil production undermined and changed the politics of strike action traditionally strong around rail and coal sectors.

Strikes – Five Articles

The Mass Strike by Rosa Luxemburg. These essays on the mass strike movement at the turn of the 20th century provided a route to develop left theory at the time. It reflects the most robust attempt of the era to analyse the newly emergent mass strike, demanding a focus on labour as it organises.

WTF is the Women’s Strike? This article by the Women’s Strike organisers provides a great introduction to the movement. For those interested in unifying strike tactics with feminist movements, this is a must read.

Guide for our adult allies and Why to strike by the UK Student Climate Network. With the next wave of national climate strikes planned for the 14th February and 13th March 2020 its more important than ever that individuals are clued up. These two short articles provide an introduction to the Climate Strike movement in the UK, and how adults can support it without taking up space.

We’re Striking to Save Britain’s Universities by Dana Mills. This article explains not only the context behind the ongoing industrial conflict in higher education, but what is at stake. Crucially, this is important reading given strikes around universities in the UK seem to be set to continue.

Five rents strikes which changed the game by Dominique Hua. One piece of underdiscussed strike action are those around renters, and protection of tenants. This piece on Red Pepper highlights some of the key victories won by tenant unions. Clearly, this should be taken as encouragement for those renting in the current UK housing system.

Strikes – Five Videos

France strikes: Thousands protest Macron’s pension reform by DW News. This short video provides a recent update on the ongoing strikes in France. Additionally, an interesting video for anyone interested in what a near general strike would look like in the modern era. Further, note the heavy-handed police response at the end of video.

Jane McAlevey: How to achieve 100% strike by Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung. This interview covers how best to organise in a workplace to build power. Consequently, this is of interest for someone who wants quick suggestions about how best they approaching strike organizing.

These Tenants Are Leading the Largest Rent Strike in LA History by the Nation. This 10-minute documentary explores tenant organising in communities in LA. In short, it highlights the key issues and why tenant organising is the solution to high rents and poor conditions.

Eugene V. Debs: A Graphic Biography by Verso Books. This panel discussion on Debs provides a great introduction into one of the most significant union organisers in history. A great conversation about socialism, art, and strikes.

Global Climate Strike: Millions protest around the world by BBC Newsnight. This short documentary summarises the extent of the Global Climate Strike Movement. With another two planned nationally, it seems like the perfect time to remind oneself about the importance of these actions.

We’re hoping as part of our new culture section to keep producing these resource guides on a number of topics. If you have a particular topic you want covered, let us know. Furthermore, if you want to pitch or contribute to the culture section get in touch with us at front-desk@bright-green.org.