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Global Strike Report Covers Six Countries

The Labor Action Tracker is a co-sponsor of a strike report on 3,152 events in Brazil, Chile, China, Italy, Turkey and the United States during 2022. It was released May 1.

“We aim to increase the visibility and provide a broader understanding of workers’ strikes throughout the world,” said Johnnie Kallas, Ph.D. M.S. '20, Ph.D. '23, project director of the tracker. It is a collaboration between the ILR School and the University of Illinois School of Labor and Employment Relations, where Kallas is now on the faculty.

“This is an especially timely report because of global labor activism in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, as workers across multiple countries have organized unions and waged strikes in response to inadequate working conditions,” he said,

The report provides snapshots of labor unrest data to help activists, policymakers and scholars advance knowledge of strikes internationally and document innovative efforts of activists and scholars to overcome limitations of official data sources, according to Deepa Kylasam Iyer, project coordinator with the Labor Action Tracker and one of the report contributors.

“While these six countries represent a fraction of workers across the globe, we believe that this report represents an important contribution to understanding strikes from a comparative and international perspective,” according to the report, which notes that the six countries comprise 27% of the world population and 48% of world gross domestic product.

The report tracks 2022 strikes, rather than 2023 data, due to the labor-intensive nature of the protest analysis research method, the researchers said. They noted that except for frequency, the six countries measure strikes in different ways; each country has a different approach for defining who counts as an employee, for instance.

A sampling of report findings include:

  • Italy is the most strike-prone country, followed by Chile.
  • China’s data should be considered as a significant undercount since the country is vast and strike activity is highly censored.
  • Across the six countries, labor actions in the education industry comprised 23% of the strikes, followed by transportation and storage, 19%, and manufacturing, 13%.
  • Percentage of strikes organized by trade unions: Chile, 95%; Brazil, 89%; Italy, 88%; U.S., 69%, Turkey, 42%, and China, 0%. The U.S. case reflects the percentage of strikes led by union versus nonunion workers.
  • Strikes in the U.S. last an average of 13.7 days, longer than in the other countries that document duration.
  • The percentage of legal strikes varied dramatically due to different laws: Italy, 97%, Brazil, 95%, Chile, 53%, Turkey, 9%, and China, 0%.

Report co-sponsors include the Inter-Union Department of Statistics and Socio-Economic Studies, known as DIEESE, Brazil; Observatory of Labor Strikes, Chile; China Labour Bulletin, China; LABMOVE Labor Action Laboratory, Italy; and the Labor Studies Collective, Turkey.

The report was distributed on May 1, International Labor Day, also known as May Day, when many workers worldwide commemorate the labor movement’s struggles and successes.

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