Table of contents
The different forms of industrial action
Advantages and disadvantages
Advantages and disadvantages of different forms of industrial action
Industrial actionis any organized action, such as stopping work or refusing to work normally, which aims to obtain better pay and working conditions.
It is used to remedy a grievance or to resolve a dispute of ay matter of mutual interest between employer and employee. Industrial action can mean a total stoppage of work or a performance of work only partly withheld, e.g. slowing down or insisting on exaggerated observances of work regulations and safety provisions. In this case we speak of a go-slow or a work-to-rule.
1.0 The different forms of industrial action
The most important one is thestrike. During a strike, workers refuse to work in order to get more money or better working conditions. To be valid in law, a strike must be conducted by a trade union and must peruse an aim that can be regulated by a collective agreement. When the strike fulfils these criterions, it is anofficial strike.
Different forms of strikes can be identified according to tactics used and to the basis on which they are organized.
The all-out strikeis a strike by all workers in a particular union, organization or trade.
We speak of ageneral strikeif all branches of the economy withdraw their labour and the whole public life is thereby brought to a standstill. This form of strike is used as a means of upholding or restoring the law. In Germany it is unlawful.
The protected or official strikeis organized by a recognized trade union or it has the approval of such a trade union. Usually it is initiated with a preliminary strike ballot held among the union members of the establishments involved in the dispute. In many cases standing rules of a union say that strike action in the official strike must be backed by a qualified majority vote and that it must have the approval of the union’s executive committee.
Theunofficial strike,on the contrary doesn’t have the approval of a trade union. It is often an immediate reaction and frequently it is used to apply pressure during delicate negotiations or when management actions are perceived as illegitimate.
The wild cat strikeis an unofficial strike called at short notice.
Another form of an unofficial strike is thetoken strikewhich is a short strike usually used as a warning of further strikes if worker’s demands are not met.
Beside the strike there are other forms of industrial action such as thego-slow. In a go-slow, workers work more slowly than usual as a protest or they perform their work only partly. One form of a go-slow is thework-to-rule. It means that there is a meticulous observance of work regulations and safety provisions by the workers. Furthermore workers are working only according to rules agreed between the union and the management, e.g. they don’t do overtime. By doing a go-slow, workers want to disrupt the establishment’s normal practice or bring it to a standstill. Awork-to-ruleis no breach of contract, but is has the implication that tasks are carried out inefficiently. This form of industrial action is almost exclusively found in the public service, because strikes by career public servants are prohibited.
Furthermore workers can try to improve their working conditions bycollective bargaining, which means that there are negotiations between an employer and a trade union about pay and working conditions.