The latest UnionDues podcast has just dropped. We go behind the scenes of StrikeMap, the realtime on-line map of industrial action established in 2020, and one of those ideas that is so game-changingly good that you can only wonder why no-one had thought of it before.
4 sacred principles
Underpinning StrikeMap are four sacred principals that sum up both the raison d’etre and the modus operandi of the project:
- Document and present the levels of strike action in the country.
- Enable others to see the levels of action and pass on messages of solidarity.
- Encourage other workers in their struggles.
- Bring those leading struggles together through a network.
StrikeMap is the brainchild of Rob Poole and Henry Fowler and they discuss their very personal trade union journeys that led them to work on what was to become StrikeMap, having previously collaborated on the Red For Key Workers campaign.
We hear how StrikeMap moved on from “a fairly rubbish WordPress site” to being technically sophisticated, widely known and increasingly highly regarded. Rob and Henry take us through StrikeMap’s evolution, the work of themselves and a network of volunteers to keep the project alive and how the tide of industrial action nearly caused the project to become a victim of its own success.
With the project now established and relatively stable, Rob and Henry describe how the impetus to explore other applications of the StrikeMap methodology took the pair into interesting and innovative territory both in the UK and internationally.
But there were many unexpected surprises along the way – from the humbling citations and thanks from workers in dispute supported by StrikeMap to the sometimes problematic insistence on eschewing factionalised labour movement politics.
Mugged by the Mail? – a spectacular own goal
And then there was the attempted “monstering” by the Daily Mail in December 2022. Hear the background to and impact of what can only be described as a disastrous own goal by the ‘paper.
Hear too the inside story of and rationale behind StrikeMap’s partnership with the General Federation of Trade Unions – and why it is arguably one of the more significant developments in the trade union world.
Looking backwards from 2026
Finally, we role forward to 2026 – hypothetically at least. Rob and Henry reflect on what they expect – and hope – the next two years will bring.
StrikeMap is a slam-dunk success and well on the way to becoming a labour movement institution – a far cry from what Henry describes as an “organiser’s fantasy.” UnionDues takes you ring-side for the story of how it happened, what keeps it going and where the project will go next.
Also in this episode Glasgow University’s Professor of Work and Employment, Melanie Simms reports back from the Resolution Foundation Worker Tech conference in her #thought4theweek . Mel reflects on the dynamics of tech that works for workers and unions and finds the glass more half-full than many may feel!
More links and signposts:
BBC series – Inside the unions
GFTU trade union and working class history course
StrikeMap book launch – 7 December, Manchester
Matt Wrack/Mick Lynch article on new anti-strike laws