Although in recent decades there has been a considerable decline in the use of the strike as a technique to demand compliance and expansion of labor rights, in recent months we have observed a recovery of this resource in several European nations. Despite some attempts, the multiplication of protests and strikes on the continent does not stop, as the workers are willing to take to the streets the abuses to which they are subjected, reflecting a crisis in the European welfare state.
In the UK, strikes are being organized by healthcare workers, where one of their biggest unions has declared 10 strikes in the following weeks, with the possibility of adding more dates of action. The ambulance workers who went on strike accuse the government of villainizing them, instead of protecting them and negotiating an end to the dispute that suits both parties.
The French have also called several strikes in recent days. The French energy branch of the General Confederation of Labor called for the organized action after a massive protest, in which approximately 2 million people participated, against the reform that President Emmanuel Macron intends to impose on the pension system.
Meanwhile, Spanish workers in the health sector are also calling for strikes in numerous communities; they seek to stop the flight of medical talent, correct the deficit of doctors in the public sector due to excessive hours in the working day and a fairer salary adjustment.
In Germany, protests increased in the agricultural sector due to increases in fuel prices and policies that give rise to the overexploitation of natural resources in the hands of some multinationals. Along these lines, the demands of the workers include fair prices for the producer, social assistance to the agricultural sector and the promotion of environmentally friendly agriculture.
Although Portugal has been singled out in recent years for its good social and economic performance, the education worker sector continues to suffer abuse. Recently, thousands of educators took to the streets of Lisbon and other cities to demand a solution to the lack of motivation, low salaries and precariousness they face.
In general, the perception of European workers is that wages are increasingly enough for fewer goods; Even with the increases promoted by the governments, the resources obtained do not cope with inflation and the increase in prices of basic needs such as gas, caused by the war between Russia and Ukraine. Likewise, the impression is of excessive government support for big business and neglect of the working class.
At this juncture, the question arises about the relevance and usefulness of the strike in the fight for labor rights, since in some groups of public opinion, the narrative about this mechanism is negative. It is criticized that the fact of vindicating some should not generate unnecessary damage to the rest of the citizenry. In principle, we can define a strike as the human right through which a group of workers, unionized or not, collectively cease work in order to achieve their economic and professional goals and full compliance with labor rights.
If we review the history of trade unionism and the struggle for workers’ demands, we will understand that no right was granted immediately or easily. It was necessary to organize millions of workers who, even with their lives, have fought for workers’ rights. The strike has played a fundamental role in advancing and succeeding in this area. Therefore, maintaining that the strike is an ineffective mechanism because it makes the rest of the citizenry uncomfortable is an affirmation that comes from privilege and a clear lack of class and historical consciousness.
In addition, this position reflects a lack of true recognition of the working class: without their work, their strength and their dedication, the growth of nations would be impossible. The effects of the strike reflect the monumental importance of the workers for societies to develop in all senses. It is also a show of resistance against the powerful who seek to enrich themselves ambitiously at the expense of labor exploitation. In Mexico, our compañeros and compañeras from Cananea, Sombrerete and Taxco, for example, bravely resisted on strike for nearly 16 years, because they know that their demands are fair, since the working conditions to which they were subjected are unsafe, unjust and unhealthy. .
The transformation of the world of work will not be without the dignity and well-being of all workers: the European working class is very clear about this. In our country, the organized action and the courage with which our colleagues seek justice and the fulfillment of their rights is an inspiration to do our best in order to fulfill our objective: a fair, equitable and safe work culture. We will not stop until labor rights are fulfilled and extended; We will continue to build the foundations of labor justice and support our colleagues who, on a global scale, proudly represent the demands and struggle of the working class.