A strike is a work stoppage caused by the mass refusal of employees to work, usually to enforce demands regarding employment conditions.
Updated: Jun 6, 2024

3 key takeaways

Copy link to section
  • A strike is a collective action where workers refuse to work to press for changes in employment terms.
  • Strikes can be organized by labor unions and are a legal method of protest in many countries.
  • They are typically used to negotiate better wages, benefits, or working conditions.

What is a strike?

Copy link to section

A strike is an organized work stoppage by employees, intended to pressurize an employer into meeting their demands concerning employment conditions. Strikes are usually initiated by labor unions representing the workers and are a fundamental tool in labor disputes. By ceasing to work, employees aim to disrupt business operations and compel the employer to address their concerns.

Strikes can vary in scale from a small group of workers in a single company to large, industry-wide actions involving thousands of workers. They are often the result of prolonged negotiations and unresolved disputes between employers and employees.

Causes of strikes

Copy link to section

Strikes are typically triggered by a range of employment-related issues. Common causes include:

  • Wage disputes: Workers may strike to demand higher wages or protest against wage cuts.
  • Working conditions: Poor or unsafe working conditions can lead to strikes as employees seek improvements.
  • Benefits: Disputes over benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid leave can also result in strikes.
  • Job security: Concerns about job layoffs or outsourcing may prompt workers to strike to secure their employment.
  • Labor policies: Strikes can occur in response to changes in labor policies or practices that negatively impact workers.

Types of strikes

Copy link to section

There are several types of strikes, each with specific characteristics and purposes.

  • Economic strike: Workers strike to obtain better wages, benefits, or working conditions.
  • Sympathy strike: Workers strike in solidarity with other striking workers, even if their own grievances are not directly involved.
  • Wildcat strike: An unauthorized strike conducted without the approval of the union leadership.
  • Sit-down strike: Workers occupy the workplace but refuse to work, preventing the employer from hiring replacements.
  • General strike: A widespread strike involving workers across multiple industries and sectors, often aimed at broader social or political issues.
Copy link to section

The legality of strikes varies by country and jurisdiction. In many countries, strikes are a legal form of protest and are protected under labor laws. However, there are often specific legal requirements and procedures that must be followed, such as:

  • Notice periods: Workers may be required to provide advance notice to the employer before initiating a strike.
  • Balloting: Unions may need to conduct a vote among their members to authorize a strike.
  • Peaceful conduct: Strikes are generally expected to be conducted peacefully without resorting to violence or coercion.

In some cases, strikes may be deemed illegal if they violate specific laws or contractual agreements, leading to potential legal consequences for participants.

Impact of strikes

Copy link to section

Strikes can have significant impacts on both employers and employees, as well as the broader economy.

For employers, strikes can disrupt operations, lead to financial losses, and damage relationships with customers and stakeholders. For employees, strikes can result in lost wages and potential job insecurity, but they also serve as a powerful tool to achieve better working conditions and terms of employment. In the broader economy, large-scale strikes can affect supply chains, consumer markets, and economic stability.

Strikes are a critical aspect of labor relations, providing workers with a mechanism to advocate for their rights and improve their working conditions. While they come with risks and challenges, strikes remain a potent form of collective action in the pursuit of fair employment practices. Understanding the causes, types, legal aspects, and impacts of strikes is essential for both employers and employees navigating labor disputes.

Sources & references
Risk disclaimer
AI Financial Assistant
Arti is a specialized AI Financial Assistant at Invezz, created to support the editorial team. He leverages both AI and the knowledge base, understands over 100,000... read more.