1895 and 1905. Strikes of workers in one of the largest industrial regions of Poland, in the city of Białystok and in the Białystok District of Grodno Province.
(1) The Białystok strike of 1895 began on August 14 and continued for three weeks, enveloping all of the factories in the city of Białystok and Białystok District; more than 10,000 workers—mainly textile workers—participated in the strike. The introduction of paybooks, which enumerated the responsibilities of the workers but said nothing about their rights, gave rise to the strike. The strikers demanded an increase in wages, the return of their passports (since by withholding them the factory owners attempted to force the workers to accept any working conditions), and the abolition of paybooks (since their introduction still further enslaved the workers). Proclamations of the Białystok Workers’ Committee of the Polish Socialist Party, calling the workers to show solidarity, were circulated among the strikers. Troops were brought in to suppress the strike. Hunger forced the workers to return to work on September 9; their demands were not satisfied. Dozens of strikers were arrested.
(2) The Białystok strike of 1905 took place from October 12 to October 24, during the period of the all-Russian political strike of October 1905. Railroad workers began the strike and on October 18 industrial workers joined them along with office workers, vendors, cab drivers, and students from the city and district. During the Białystok strike, mass political demonstrations were accompanied by clashes with police and troops. During the strike a soviet of workers’ deputies arose, but it was led by Socialist Revolutionaries and anarchists and therefore did not become an organ of insurrection.