Freedom News

Ways to ruin the boss’s day

Looking at those bills creeping up while your wage flatlines and your bosses waddle off with trousers full of cash you may have thought about pushing for a better share.

But strikes are hard work, and may not always help. They need a union recognition agreement and 50% response rates on the ballot, which takes a month to go through and has to be done by mail as though the entire history of the internet never happened. Then once you do get the right to walk out you don’t even get to call the scabs what they are because they’re sooow pwecious. Surely there’s other things to be done?

Well yes, historically there’s been a whole bunch of harder and softer tactics used over the years, mostly needing a bit of a collective organising (there’s other resources out there for getting that bit done). We can’t, of course, make any endorsements one way or the other about how well they’d work for you.

The Collective Letter

Often used as a precursor to (and sometimes warning of) more direct action, the collective letter is a great way to worry a boss who incorrectly thinks the office is full of scared and atomised individuals who won’t stand up for themselves. It’s also a good way to get people to commit to the bit before moving on to other activities, having both the safety of collective action and of being a lighter touch, lower risk initial confrontation.

Marching on the Boss

Often used in conjunction with the collective letter, marches on the boss involve getting everyone together and confronting them at a time of your choosing, not theirs and asking questions collectively. In some cases the workplace will stand as one while the letter is read out. Bosses have been known to lock themselves in their own office rather than front it out.

The Good Work Strike

Everyone likes to be liked. Well with the good work strike you get to be liked and wind up management. Is there anything else I can do for you madam, something time consuming and/or expensive that doesn’t bring in any extra profit? Oh dear, in a slip of the hand I appear to have given you double the normal serving sir, how clumsy. Or you could of course be like Bob from The Incredibles, who in his most heroic act of the entire film simultaneously protected his customer from being ripped off and cost the firm a bucket of extra cash, all while being a very helpful employee.


If only everyone else knew what you know about what the bosses are getting up to behind closed doors eh? The way they talk about major clients, the corners they cut, the rules they break – ooh it’s a scandal in the making. It’s amazing it’s not come out before really. Well with your help, it can. And it might remind management exactly which other skeletons, in what cupboards, their workforce are helpfully ignoring. There’s two ways of course, the legal way, and the way in which you don’t get caught – remember to read up on how to do so safely.

Working to Rule

Despite the absolutely cringeworthy right-wing press’s attempt to brand this as a new Gen Z thing by calling it “quiet quitting,” working to rule is an absolutely solid way of letting bosses know exactly how dim a view the workplace is taking of them. It’s not even costing the firm money, it’s just not letting them get extra work for free. In fact it’s them getting exactly what they’ve paid for. Not in the contract? Don’t do it. Outside of normal hours? Don’t even pick the phone up. Show up and leave precisely on time, take your exact mandated breaks and watch productivity per person drop like a stone. And the best part of a mass work to rule? It’s hard to fire someone when you’re short handed.

The Go Slow

An edgier cousin of working to rule, the go slow is exactly what it says. You can use a lot of the same methods, but also incorporate outright delaying tactics to make the hours you are working less productive. Longer loo breaks. Constant stop-starting because of vital questions that only management can sort out. Physically moving more slowly and either being very thorough or making errors which involve lots of work to re-do. Double the length of a report by phrasing the same concept several times over, tangenting etc etc. The possibilities are endless – but bear in mind they’re also easier to get written up for.

The Health and Safety Sticklers

Health and safety is often one of the most powerful tools in the union’s arsenal. Get a union person certified as a health and safety rep and they have a lot of rights to help force proper action. But there’s also less official ways to make sure bosses know what’s up, especially during a dispute. Another relation to the work to rule, this involves not doing any corner cutting which contravenes health and safety guidance. Given how often bosses either unknowingly or deliberately flout theses rules, and the sometimes impractical nature of them, this can be surprisingly effective – for example the piss strike which RMT successfully used on London Underground, in which rather than go in the tunnel, they went all the way back to the station every time they needed a whizz, as demanded by health rules. They won.

The Sick in

Speaking of health, we all need a duvet day once in a while, right? But what if everyone is getting sick? Somebody comes in coughing and sneezing, so much so they get sent home. But oh no, the bug’s gone round now! Everyone’s getting ill! Such a shame, looks like the office is suddenly short on staff right when we’ve been making a point about being poorly treated when we’re the ones who keep the place running. Maybe if we were less stressed folks wouldn’t be so prone to absence through illness, hmm? You certainly can ask for a doctor’s note boss, but there’s something of a shortage of GPs seeing people at the moment and for the first seven days you really shouldn’t.

The Bottleneck

A trickier one as it can get individuals targeted, but if they’re willing and hard to get rid of it can be very effective without putting the rest of the workforce in danger. Every workplace has its bottlenecks, where one or two people are throughputting a large amount of work which stalls if they aren’t there. If they go on the sick or are unable to run their equipment, nothing moves. This has been used to great effect on everything from manufacturing lines to office jobs.

Workplace Occupation

A whole genre in itself this one and also often known as a Sitdown Strike. Occupations can be extraordinarily effective, either stopping work completely or, less commonly, re-starting it such as in the famous case of the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders. They require a lot of gumption on the part of the workers, especially in the face of likely siege from cops (and the media), and as with any wildcat will have no legal protections, but they can also have a lot of advantages, especially by denying the space to strikebreakers and managers.

Accidentally Breaking Stuff

Not every breakage is as satisfyingly direct as that printer scene from Office Space, but everything has its shelf life, y’know? And stuff does happen. sometimes for example the boss might give you a job that is well outside what you’re actually paid for like fronting some bright idea about an office vlog. And whoops, butter fingers, looks like the ringlight’s been knocked down some stairs. Ah well you are pretty clumsy – and entirely untrained. Historically of course people have been known to go a bit further than that …


AKA breaking stuff vital to the job in a more methodical and obviously catastrophic manner. A method so old its name is based on the word for a wooden shoe and so venerable that the general principle was officially endorsed by the CIA to fight Nazi bosses. If the tools don’t work neither can you. Doing this sort of thing can, obviously, be a sacking offence and liable for some charges at worst, so please note that while it’s so famous we can hardly avoid a mention, this is not a recommendation.

The Barricade

A bit of a step up on the direct action side. Alright these aren’t a common thing for workers in Britain (though green groups like Just Stop Oil, Extinction Rebellion and Stop HS2 have been doing a fair bit to the squealing fury of the tabloids). But head south a bit to Spain and they love it. There’s nothing quite so intimidating to a complacent boss as a burning line of tyres between them and their profits. Beware however, this stuff can cause a fair bit of trouble in a country where it’s less normalised and the Tories are busily trying to criminalise such tactics.

Workplace Annexation

Another one we don’t really do in Britain but which has a long and impressive history in Southern Europe and South America particularly. Probably the most famous example was the Argentine occupation wave of the 1990s which saw everything from ceramics and textile factories to metal casting and, most famously, the Hotel Bauen taken into workers’ hands when they went into receivership, where they went on to be sources of income and movement resources for years to come.


A particular favourite of the French, who have always been more prepared to go the distance when standing up for themselves than us (ironic, really, given the British penchant for thinking of ourselves as being more up for a fight). Pretty much most kinds of senior managers have been bossnapped across the Channel, from top CEOs to particularly despised HR managers.

Of course, historically there have been many other forms of workplace resistance, some of which get into the territory of what’s now defined as illegalism or even terrorism. But those are outside the remit of this article and for now, in the absence of cadres of armed workers roaming the streets, we’ll stick with the above. Bon chance, union militants!

Discover more from Freedom News

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading