This week, India had an enormous strike - up to 200 million people. Some links:

Indian Workers Strike in Fight for Higher Wages(Guardian)

Millions Indian Workers Strike(Al Jazeera)

Real News

Indians Staged One of the Largest Strikes in History

200 million is a lot of people. This is about 16% of India's 1.25 billion people; a huge percentage.

It is likely this is the largest strike that has occured when counting the total number of people.

What about as a % of a country's population? Has a larger general strike ever occurred? If so, what % of a country were on strike? (In order to control for population growth, and the variation in country size, it is the % of the country that was on strike).


3 Answers 3


In the aftermath of the first World War, approximately 12 million German workers (source in German) out of a population of 62 million went on a general strike to protest the Kapp Putsch. This is a slightly higher percentage, 19% of the population compared to 16% from your example. But it was a political strike, not one for traditional economic aims.

I don't know if there were even larger strikes.


The French General Strike of May 1968 is a likely contender with around 10 million on strike out of a then population of about 51.2 million, or about 19.5% of the total population. This represented about two-thirds of the total workforce. Some sources put the number as high as 11 million (approx. 21.5% of the population).

enter image description here

L'Aurore was a French centre-right newspaper which included among its writers several members of the Académie française. This (weekend) edition is dated 25 & 26 May 1968 and has the sub-heading "mais 10 millions de Francais sont toujours en greve". Image source: cadeauretro.com

The figure of 10 million is the most widely given, and was quoted by publications at both ends of the political spectrum. The article General Strike: France 1968 - A factory by factory account gives figures which show how the numbers increased during May 1968:

From a few hundred strikers on 14th May at the Sud-Aviation air craft factory in Nantes the strike spread rapidly: 2 million strikers by 18th May, 9 million by 24th May, reaching nearly 10 million two days later.

The Historical Dictionary of France also gives 9 million for 24th May, but doesn't give a number after that.

A Journal of Labor Economics (Univ. of Chicago, 2008) article, Vive la Re´volution! Long-Term Educational Returns of 1968 to the Angry Students (pdf) says

Over 10 million French workers were involved in the strikes—roughly two-thirds of the French workforce.

This 2015 undergraduate thesis, “Peace Capital”: American Media 's Coverage of May 1968 in Paris (pdf) gives the highest number:

Over 11 million workers went on strike during May, which totaled over 20% of the population.

The figure of 11 million is also given by Wikipedia's May 1968 events in France.

  • 1
    can't beat french at this
    – GlorfSf
    Nov 26, 2018 at 9:35

The general strike in October-November 1956 Hungary was total in the sense that the strike committee (Central Workers Council Greater Budapest & constituent federative bodies) authorised the continued operation of media, medical and food services under their control; and, in that the Soviet Union enslaved railway workers.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.