general strikes in finland

map of finland

1917, november 13 - 19 - workers' general strike precedes finnish class war
on november 13, a workers' general strike was proclaimed by the social democratic party and the central trade union. demands included the 8 hour workday, the right to food, an end to unemployment, universal suffrage in municipalities, a new constitution and implementation of the "power law" which proclaimed finnish parliament (where 93 of 200 deputies were socialists) as the sovereign authority in finland. after the czar had been overthrown in march, the situation of finland was constitionally unclear.

the strike spread fast and took revolutionary form. red guards (which had been formed in the spring of 1917) took control of most of the country and had some clashes with bourgeois "protection guards" (also reformed during 1917). in many places food and weapons were expropriated from bourgeoisie. this resulted in the moderate and nationalist bourgeoise voting in parliament for municipal reforms and the 8 hour workday, plus some other concessions from bourgeois side.

the night between november 18 and 19, the "revolutionary central council," formed by the social democratic party and the central trade union, decided not to be revolutionary and to end strike. while the strike was stopped, class struggle couldn't be pacified. by the end of january 1918, this tension escalated into class war. over 20,000 people were killed in this, mostly workers who were shot or died in concentration camps after the white victory.

many thanks to reko ravela for contributing this information.

1905, october 30 - november 6 - finland's first general strike

this nationwide strike was supported by both the workers' movement and the nationalist ("constitutionalist") bourgeoisie. the strike started as an act of solidarity with the general strike in russia. police stations were occupied in main towns and national guard were formed to keep order. however, relations between bourgoisie and working class elements came more and more tense as the strike continued. in many parts of the country, national guards were split between bourgeois "protection guards" ("butcher guards", as workers called them) and workers' red guards (which were stronger).

workers' demanded universal and equal suffrage, while the bourgeoisie only wanted the restoration of full autonomy for finland (which had been gradually attacked since 1899) under the old feudal political system. on november 4, the russian czar issued a declaration which promised to restore autonomy and a new constitution for finland, which would be based on universal and equal suffrage. this satisfied the bougeoisie, but did not fully meet the workers' demands. however, the strike was called off november 6, as it was seen as too difficult to fight both the russian government and the finnish bourgeoisie at that time.

at the conclusion of the strike, a 10,000 strong workers meeting in helsinki accepted a declaration which proclaimed the finnish bourgoeisie as being no better than any bourgoeisie. as a result of the strike, the new constitution was accepted in 1906, which introduced universal and equal suffrage (which was a first for women in europe). the social democrats became biggest party in first general election 1907.

many thanks to reko ravela for contributing this information.

the world : europe : finland