100 Years Ago Today

A History Of Events And Happenings From Exactly One Hundred Years Ago

General Strike Paralyzes Switzerland

A general strike is when different groups of workers unite to all support each other in a work stoppage involving the entire community. It can affect a city, state or country. Government have tried to ban or outlaw general strikes as detrimental to the country. They have been used with great effect since the mid-19th century.

Switzerland has been going through an industrial boom and 17% of the workers were foreign in 1910. In March and April 1912 unhappy painters and fitters staged strikes in Zurich demanding a reduction in working hours. Their employers reacted by creating blacklists, deporting foreign strikers and using strike-breakers. Strike breakers were usually criminals who were urged to goad workers into violence. When a strike-breaker shot and killed a striker the workers resolved to protest and organised a one-day general strike for July 12, 1912.

On July 12, 1912 23,000 workers walked out and marched in protest in Zurich. The train depots were occupied and the city came to a complete standstill.

A crowd of strikers during the general strike in Zurich, Switzerland
July 12, 1912

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