Socialist Worker

A long, proud history of working class struggle

Issue No. 2294

First Scotrail drivers picketing in 2010

First Scotrail drivers picketing in 2010


Picketing has an important history in the trade union movement.

It has been crucial to winning important battles.

That’s why there is an understanding among many workers that “you don’t cross picket lines”.

There is a long and proud tradition of picketing and it is a tradition we should defend and promote.

Pickets played a central role in the great miners’ strikes of the early 1970s that broke a Tory government.

Sometimes just putting a sign on a bridge saying “picket line” was enough to persuade rail workers not to drive a train any further.

This solidarity from other workers made the impact of the strike much bigger—and made it harder for the government to ignore.

During the miners’ strike of 1984-85, one solitary picket brought out several mines in the north east—adding thousands more workers to the strike.

In France in 1995 striking rail workers sent travelling or “flying” pickets around Paris in the middle of the night.

They went to the large postal depots and picketed workers out—sparking a huge revolt against the government.

Sometimes greater numbers of pickets have been crucial.

In 1972 thousands of miners and engineers together picketed and closed the Saltley coke depot near Birmingham.

It was a decisive battle that beat the government.

Every picket line, and every worker who refuses to cross one, is part of renewing and rebuilding these traditions.

This will be useful in the pensions fight. It will also make us stronger in resisting all the attacks our rulers plan to throw at us in the future.


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