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Visit a picket – and you’ll ‘never be the same again’

This May Day, HENRY FOWLER and ROBERT POOLE of Strike Map asks you to make a pledge to show some solidarity and Visit a Picket line

LAST year, Strike Map celebrated its first anniversary. Since our inception you have now mapped over 215 strikes.

I say you because we couldn’t run Strike Map without you — you the workers, you the reps and you the shop stewards.

The fact that these strikes took place is in itself an achievement.

The anti-trade union laws in Britain make collective action exceedingly difficult. 

Two hundred and fifteen might seem like a lot but it is only a drop in the ocean. We know there are strikes we have missed, we know there are strike threats that are enough to get results without ever needing to reach the picket line.  

We are facing a crisis, the extent of which is yet unknown, with inflation on the rise and wages stagnant.

Make no mistake, this is a crisis caused by corporate greed alone but one that we can, indeed must, fight.

The only way we have, as workers, of standing up to bad bosses and greedy capitalists is by withholding our labour.

We appreciate that taking industrial action can be a scary thing to even contemplate and very daunting.

Workers taking action can feel like they are the first person to be in this situation, they can feel isolated — mainly because most of this industrial action will never get a mention in the mainstream press, other than here in the Morning Star.

If it does it is often in a negative way, framed around the inconvenience caused rather than the injustice suffered.  

We want to celebrate those workers taking industrial action and support others to take this step where it is needed.

That is why today, May Day 2022, we are launching a campaign to take Strike Map to the streets, from the digital world to the physical world.

This campaign, Visit a Picket, aims to achieve an increase in the number of people visiting picket lines and supporting comrades to win workplace victories. 

The trade union leader Cesar Chavez said that “when a man or woman, young or old, takes a place on the picket line for even a day or two, he will never be the same again” — and we believe this is true. It teaches us the true meaning of solidarity beyond the abstract concept.

Visiting a picket isn’t just important as a gesture of solidarity, though, it can be part of something bigger.

Through these acts of solidarity, workers and reps can link together, share stories of shared struggle and build organic networks — invaluable for peer-to-peer organising. To build strong links between unions, reps and members. To build stronger real-life actions to supplement online activism.

By doing so, build the confidence to strike. To build power within the trade union movement and develop a consciousness around the need for industrial action and its ability to generate wins for workers.

That is why alongside developing our map further, through the kind donations of individuals, union branches and trades councils we are aiming to build a workers and reps/stewards network fit to take the fight to employers and Westminster. 

On June 15, we are hosting an event with NHS Workers Say No! a reps’, stewards’ and strike leaders’ event, led by stewards on how to sustain strike action and, more importantly, win.

This event is for all those workplace reps, stewards, strike leaders and branch officers who organise in the workplace and is proudly supported by the BFAWU, IWGB, Unite Rank and File, Strike! MCR, Notes from Below and the Trade Union Co-ordinating Group. 

This event, one of many to come both online and in person, will help us forge the militant rank-and-file councils of the times gone by, when rank-and-file workers organised and won. 

We hope that as many people as possible will sign up to visit their local picket line this May Day using our pledge form here: bit.ly/visitapicket.

Once pledged, we will send people details of their nearest picket line, based on the information we have on our map. 

People will then visit their nearest picket line, hopefully as a group, sharing on social media pictures and videos.

Since our launch in December 2020, our maps have had thousands of views.

Now in 2022 we’re seeing a growing militancy from workers who have said that enough is enough.

It’s time to take the strong support we have had online onto the streets and ensure our solidarity extends beyond a tweet.

Our only response as workers to a growing cost-of-living crisis and a failing government in Westminster is collective action using the full weight of our communities. 

We will end with this quote from Cesar Chavez: “From the depth of need and despair, people can work together, can organise themselves to solve their own problems and fill their own needs with dignity and strength.”

We want to invite you all to pledge to join us in visiting a local picket and remember that when we fight, we win. 

Submit a strike or view our map at www.strikemap.co.uk. Follow Strike Map UK on Twitter @StrikeMapUK.

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