16

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).

13

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.

11

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).

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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 '18 at 9:35
3

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.

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