Torres Strait soldiers stage stay-at-home strikes to demand full pay and an end to discrimination in the army, 1943
South of Papua New Guinea (PNG) lies the Torres Strait. The strait consists of 274 islands, 14 of which are inhabited by a predominantly Melanesian population. Based on the 2016 census, the total population of the Torres Strait is 4,514 compared to an estimated size of 1,800 in 1943. Torres Strait Islanders are an ethnic minority in Australia and, historically, have been discriminated against by the Australian government.
Ecuadorian indigenous stage mass uprising against neo-liberal measures including privatizing water and taking communally held land, 1994
Starting with Ecuador’s founding as a republic in 1822, the country’s
economic policy oppressed Indigenous citizens through measures that led
to the concentration and destruction of Indigenous lands. In 1986,
Luis Macas founded the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of
Ecuador (CONAIE) to advocate for the underrepresented Indigenous
Ecuadorians. CONAIE focused particularly on protecting land and water
rights of Indigenous communities. CONAIE leaders of the 1990s emphasized
demands for a plurinational state, collective rights, and territorial
Australian Aboriginal workers strike for fair wages and equality, 1946-1949
In 20th century Australia indigenous workers were treated completely differently from the Caucasian settlers on the continent. Until the 1920s, for example, Aboriginals employed at pastoral stations in Australia received rations of clothing and food instead of cash wages.
Hawaiians strike against Inter-Island Steam Navigation Company Limited, 1938
Hawaiian workers attempting to organize unions in the 1920s and 1930s faced enormous difficulties. They met stern opposition from an alliance of plantation owners and large companies, including the Inter-Island Steam Navigation Company. Hawaiian workers were also divided into various ethnic groups, which made it easy for the companies to use a policy of divide-and-rule.
Hawaiian longshoremen win 177-day strike in Hawai'i', 1949
By 26 January 1949, negotiations between the International Longshoreman’s Worker Union (ILWU) and the longshoreman employers had reached a standstill. Leaders Jack Hall, Harry Bridges, and Louis Goldblatt negotiated for pay raises for the Hawaii longshoremen. Workers were aware that longshoremen on the west coast of the U.S., who were employed by the same company and loading/unloading the same cargo, were being paid $1.82/hour whereas the Hawaii longshoremen were only being paid $1.40.
Brazilian women advance conditions for rural workers (Margaridas' march), 2000
In Brazil in
2000, the Margaridas, or Daisies, formed in honor of Margarida Maria Alves, a
union leader renowned for surmounting the embedded cultural stereotypes and
obstacles for women, especially those working in rural areas. Alves
became the president of the Rural Worker’s Union in her town, but was
reportedly assassinated in 1983, at the age of 50, because of her advocacy for
those working in rural or forested areas.
After her death, she became a feminist icon in the fight for equality
Hawaiians strike against the sugar industry in Hawai'i' (Hawaii), 1946
The Great Hawai'i' Sugar Strike was launched against the Hawaiian Sugar Planters' Association and the “Big Five” companies in 1946. The “Big Five” were made up of a handful of corporate elite companies: Alexander & Baldwin, American Factors, Castle & Cooke, C. Brewer, and Theo. Davies. They exercised complete control over Hawai'i's sugar plantation workers and the majority of the island’s multi-ethnic workforces.
Ecuadorian indigenous workers strike for higher wages in Cayambe, 1930-1931
Rural Ecuador had functioned under the huasipungo land-tenure system since the 16th century. The tenant farmers, called huasipungueros, were mainly of indigenous descent and worked 3 to 6 days a week on hacienda estates in the highlands, owned by absentee elite white families. In exchange for their labor, the laborers received a small plot of land for subsistence, access to pasture land for cattle, and a small cash wage. The indigenous farmers were highly attached to their land although their plots were still owned by the hacienda.
Tibetans boycott Chinese vegetable vendors, Qinghai, Tibet/China, 2011
Tibetans in Nangchen County, Qinghai province, China/Tibet, bought vegetables from Chinese vendors until early 2011, when the prices began to increase dramatically. In Chinese-owned vegetable shops, the price of 1 kg of apples increased from 2 yuan to 8 yuan, and the prices of other staple foods, such as cabbage, onions, and potatoes, also increased. The price increases put financial strain on Tibetans.
Lagos market women campaign to remove income tax, Nigeria, 1940-1941
Women market workers in Lagos, an area in western Nigeria, in the 1920s were organized into a powerful group known as the Lagos Market Women Association (LMWA). In 1932, a rumor emerged that the British colonial government was going to begin taxing Lagosian women, which had never been done before, although taxes for men had been introduced in 1927 (in spite of coordinated resistance by different groups). The market women felt that a tax was unfair and that they were already struggling to make a living.
Native Americans occupy Alcatraz for land rights, 1969-1971
In the 1950s the Eisenhower administration enacted the Relocation and Termination programs in regard to American Indian federal policy. The first part meant that Native Americans were to relocate from their respective reservations into big cities. In doing this, Native Americans would lose the unity of the immediate communities as they individually integrated as citizens into separate cities. Meanwhile, the reservation lands would be liquidated into the hands of the federal government. The second part, termination, was a broader result of the relocation.
Guatemalan indigenous peoples campaign for equal rights, 1977-1981
On February 4, 1976, a massive earthquake hit the highlands of Guatemala and displaced more than one million people. Indigenous groups from the departments of Sacatepequez, Chimaltenango, Guatemala, and Quiche were hit the hardest and the weak response from the national government brought to light the racial inequalities affecting indigenous peoples.
Sheikh Amadu Bàmba’s Murīd Resistance to French Colonial Oppression
Born into a family of well-to-do Ṣūfī marabouts (clerics), Sheikh Amadu Bàmba Mbàcke – whose Arabic name was Aḥmad Ibn Muḥammad
Ibn Ḥabīb al-Lah – lived from roughly 1854 to 1927. Through his emphases on piety, hard work,
singular devotion to God, the corrupting potential of governmental power,
mystical pedagogy, and principled nonviolence, Bàmba effectively (and of
secondary interest if not unwittingly) led the black Sénégalese population to de facto political and economic
Solidarność (Solidarity) brings down the communist government of Poland, 1988-89
In the late 1980’s, Poland was nearing the end of almost 40 years of postwar communism as part of the Soviet Eastern Bloc. Out of labor organizing earlier in the decade emerged Solidarność (Solidarity), the first non-communist party-controlled trade union federation in a Warsaw Pact country (see Polish workers general strike for economic rights, 1980). Shortly after the rise of Solidarity, the organization expanded into a larger social movement, appealing for economic reforms, free elections, and increased political participation of trade unions.
Indians campaign for independence (Salt Satyagraha), 1930-1931
The Salt Satyagraha campaign that began in 1930 sought to continue previous efforts that had attempted to undermine British colonial rule in India and establish Purna Swaraj (complete self-rule). The previous nationwide nonviolent campaign for independence (1919-22) had been called off by Gandhi because it broke into disarray and violence, even though it had been preceded by local campaigns: a campaign in Champaran (Indian peasants in Champaran campaign for rights, 1917) and a textile workers strike in Ahmedabad in 1918.
Indian peasants in Champaran campaign for rights, 1917
During the time of British occupation of India, peasants of Champaran district of the Bihar state were highly exploited by the indigo cultivation. The lessees of Indigo and agricultural areas had been Indians until 1793, but as the British Empire began its rule in India, European planters began to take over and gained total control of the indigo and sugar cane cultivation.
Indians campaign for full independence (Quit India Campaign), 1942-1943
In March 1942, the British Parliament sent a delegation to India under Sir Stafford Cripps, a Labor Party Politician, in order to negotiate with the Indian National Congress a constitution that would secure Indian support of World War II. The Indian National Congress (INC) found the proposal for the new constitution unsatisfactory, since the draft declaration promised India domination status—but not complete independence—in return for its total cooperation during the war.
Unions and students in Hong Kong and Canton strike-boycott against British imperial rule, 1925-1926
In a shooting incident on May 30, 1925, Sikh police under British command opened fire on Chinese protestors in the International Settlement of Shanghai, killing nine demonstrators and wounding many others. News of the incident spread across China, triggering an outburst of nationalism and prompting protests all over, but especially in Shanghai and Canton (Guangzhou) – two cities with concentrated British interests.
Tahitian labor unions general strike to protest economic hardship, 2010
Tahiti was first made into a French colony in 1880 and then, along with the rest of the Polynesian islands, became a French territory in 1946. Since then, Tahiti has been the economic center of French Polynesia.
Irish workers general strike in Dublin, 1913
The Dublin strike of 1913 occurred against a backdrop of deplorable living conditions for workers in the city, as well as widespread economic stagnation. The death rate was high at 27.6 per 1000, and there was a high infant mortality rate as well. Unemployment was at an all-time low, and unskilled, casual workers had a particularly hard time finding jobs and supporting their families. Poor union organization gave unskilled workers very few outlets for improving their situation. An added layer of division to that between rich and poor was the sectarian divide.
Fijian oil industry workers strike for higher wages and benefits, 1959
In the 1950s, many young Fijians moved from far-flung island villages to Suva, the largest city of this small British colony. In Suva, they found a stagnant economy that was unable to provide work for the influx of residents. For those lucky enough to find employment, the de facto minimum wage was less than the cost of living. The British colonial government was not concerned about labor unrest, however—racial barriers had always served to dampen dissent. Fiji was populated at this time by a mix of local Fijians, Europeans, and laborers from India and elsewhere in As
Bolivians win democratic control of the country's gas reserves, 2003-2005
Bolivia contains significant natural resources, but also has a long history of exploitation by foreign powers. One of these resources is natural gas. Just like the precious metals from Potosí, however, the gas was mostly exported (partially due to low demand within Bolivia) as a raw material, meaning very little wealth stayed in Bolivia, and the wealth that did remain was concentrated in a few, mostly white, hands. In protest of this policy tens of thousands of Bolivian activists, who mostly came from indigenous backgrounds, worked toward the nationalization of the nation’
Beninese campaign for economic justice and democracy, 1989-90
Benin gained its independence from France in 1960 and was then named Dahomey. Colonel Mathieu Kérékou took power of the country in a coup in 1972 and later renamed the country the People’s Republic of Benin, organized the economy under a Marxist-Leninist ideology, and outlawed all political parties except his People’s Revolutionary Party of Benin. By the 1980s, Kérékou remained as the president of Benin, but the economy was failing. The government had to lower government aid to students and the salaries for civil servants and in 1988 the state owned banks crashed. Fa
Gabon oil workers strike to protest changing labor conditions, 2010-11
Gabon, a nation of 1.5 million people, is the sixth largest oil exporter in Africa. In 2008, the country was producing as many as 250,000 barrels of crude oil a day. Foreign investors included Royal Dutch Shell, Total, Tullow Oil Plc., and Canadian Natural Resources.