Which countries have the most strikes in Europe and what is the impact on the economy?

By Servet Yanatma

A nationwide strike is taking place in France on Thursday in response to plans by President Emmanuel Macron’s government to reform the pension system and raise the retirement age. Strikes may continue beyond January 19 as France’s largest trade union has described Thursday as only a starting point.

Strikes have been happening in the UK, too. Nurses went on strike in England in December 2022 for the first time in 106 years. Rail workers have been on strike in recent weeks, and teachers and health workers are planning to strike in February.

Strikes are a significant part of the culture of working life in Europe. People in several EU member states including Spain and Germany went on strike recently, primarily asking for better pay and working conditions.

But which countries have the most strikes in Europe? Is industrial action more common in some countries than others? How has the number of working days lost to strikes changed over the last decades?

Industrial action is typically measured by “days not worked” or “working days lost” due to strikes or lockouts. The number of days not worked due to such action varies highly from year to year. Thus, trends over time are more meaningful than simple comparisons of annual data.

Working days lost to strikes across Europe

According to a dataset prepared by the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI), the countries going on strike the most have seen slight changes in ranking over the last 20 years.

Between 2000 and 2009, the annual average of days not worked due to strikes per 1,000 employees was the highest in Spain, where an average 153 working days were lost. This was followed by France with 127 days.Denmark (105 days) ranked third with an annual average of more than 100 working days lost. Belgium and Finland followed with 70 days each.

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