Cinema

'Streik!' Look back through a hundred years of trade union activity in the Grand Duchy

The documentary by director Andy Bausch is to be released on 11 May 2016

When talking about the Grand Duchy's recent history and the basis of the country's wealth, mention is often made of the success of the iron and steel industry in the Grand Duchy. Few people recall that this success was based on thousands of miners and steelworkers, some of them as young as 13 years old, who used to work for up to fifteen hours a day with no social security, no health insurance, and no job guarantee. With 'Streik!' ('Strike!'), the documentary by Luxembourgish director Andy Bausch builds a monument to them, retracing the history of the trade union movement in the Grand Duchy.

The history of the Grand Duchy's iron and steel industry is also the history of immigration to the Grand Duchy. First German then Italian workers came to work in the factories in the southern part of the Grand Duchy in their thousands in the early years of the 20th century. But the work was difficult and dangerous and the hours very long, and there were no standards for safety in the workplace, and no social security. In 1912 several hundred Italian labourers demonstrated against their working conditions - the demonstration was broken up by Luxembourgish gendarmes. Four demonstrators died, including one child. This is the starting point for the history of the trade union movement in the Grand Duchy, and for the film 'Streik!'.

Through the eyes of a young student, the audience follows the creation and development of the first workers' movements, and their fight for better working conditions, up to the defence of the interests of cross-border workers in the present day.

While economic growth and the gradual improvement in the quality and standard of living in the Grand Duchy are the main features of the country's contemporary history, 'Streik!' focuses on the reverse of the coin: the exploitation, poverty and conflicts - sometimes with violence - workers had to face.

The film goes on general release on 11 May 2016.

(article written by the editorial team of the portal luxembourg.lu)

  • Updated 13-05-2016