The UK experiencing a lot of strikes at the moment (2022/3) and there have been tentative references to a General Strike.

My impression is that historically that would have meant "strike by the manual labour pool", with anyone who worked a manual labour job being encouraged to strike in solidarity". So obviously miners etc., but also factory workers, farm labourers, etc. etc. i.e. including people who normally wouldn't be part of a union per se, and wouldn't normally consider strike action. (And ??? perhaps don't have a legal right to strike ???)

Obviously in the 1800s that pool of workers made up a large portion of the countries work-force, so a General Strike was a major blow to national GDP, which (I assume) was the point of a General Strike - a declaration from the "entire" workforce that they were collectively standing with and supporting the initial striking groups.

Nowadays that manual labour pool is a very much smaller part of the work force. But you might now consider including a lot of socio-economically similar jobs into the category - transport workers, retail staff, etc.

But what about Office Workers, would they be encouraged to be part of a General Strike?

Q: How would a General Strike work in the 21st Century, given the shift away from manual labour in the workforce?

  • Not sure if it´s really related to politics.
    – convert
    Commented Jan 16, 2023 at 11:24
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    Was a coment for review.
    – convert
    Commented Jan 16, 2023 at 12:02
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    I don't know about the situation in the UK but on Thursday you will be able to see what a French general strike looks like: lemonde.fr/en/politics/article/2023/01/11/….
    – xyldke
    Commented Jan 16, 2023 at 16:21
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    Voting to close because this requires speculation. Would people who are not members of unions and/or who could be sacked for striking wish to take part? Would individual unions take part? How do you propose to answer that?
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jan 16, 2023 at 21:12
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    Potentially schoolchildren could strike; there have been strikes by women homemakers (e.g. in Iceland in 1975); I'm sure pensioners could declare some kind of strike. But who will strike? There is no serious movement or organisation.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jan 16, 2023 at 21:15

1 Answer 1


A general strike calls on everybody to join an overtly political protest against something or other. This might include not just employees, who would traditionally strike for better wages and working conditions, but also small business owners and even civil servants. The question, of course, is which demographics are likely to respond to such a call. This depends on their legal and financial situation if they go on strike, but also on their political affinity to the cause of the strikers.

Typically a strike involves organized labour.

  • There have been attempts by gig workers to organize, with one key demand being recognized as regular workers.
  • Self-employed people would on the one hand find it easier to close their business for one day, but on the other hand they might not have unions to pay them ...
  • On the other hand, lower educational achievement seems to have some correlation with voting conservative, so gig workers and small business owners might not be so easy to mobilize.

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