Mass Strikes Against Austerity in Western Europe – A Strategic Assessment

  • Jörg Nowak Independent Researcher
  • Alexander Gallas University of Kassel

Abstract

The politics of austerity and the changes to labour law in many Western European countries have led to a wave of mass strikes that is unprecedented in that part of the world, at least since the end of World War II. The strikes are predominantly one-day political and general strikes. Their characteristics are (a) a huge participation in historical comparison, (b) the crucial role of unions and workers from the public sector, and (c) a general lack of success. We give a brief account of the strike wave since 2008 and address four questions: 1. What type of strike do we encounter? 2. What are the socio-economic and political conditions that have led to the emergence of this type? 3. What are its limits as a means of struggle? 4. Which steps would have to be taken in order to change the relations of forces in favour of the European working classes?