Strike is a very powerful weapon used by trade unions and other labor associations to get their demands accepted. It generally involves quitting of work by a group of workers for the purpose of bringing the pressure on their employer so that their demands get accepted. When workers collectively cease to work in a particular industry, they are said to be on strike.
Strike action, also called labour strike, on strike, greve (of French: grève), or simply strike, is a work stoppage caused by the mass refusal of employees to work. A strike usually takes place in response to employee grievances. Strikes became important during the industrial revolution, when mass labour became important in factories and mines.
In most countries, they were quickly made illegal, as factory owners
had far more political power than workers. Most western countries
partially legalized striking in the late 19th or early 20th centuries.
No doubt strike is the ultimate weapon in the hands of worker and labour laws also support strikes if it does in accordance with , if we go through the history of strikes and analyse, core reason we find ultimately is non payment of wages to workers by their employer, followed by irregular payment of wages and then less payment of the wages.
If we take very recent incidents of strikes in various industries, non payment of the wages were obvious reasons for resorting strikes by workers, real examples in 2012 year as follows
- KINGFISHER AIRLINES employees were on strike for several days for not paying salary by company for almost period of seven months. strike took many turns and aggregated subsequently employees agitations came on to roads as demonstrations against non payment of salaries. At worst, wife of an employee of this airlines had committed suicide due to unbearable financial crisis caused due non payment of wages for months to his husband.
Causes of strikes:
- Chennai, March, 2012: Nurses employed at different hospitals did strike for almost 7 days against hospital managements for their demands.
Hundreds of nurses, several of them junior staff, have struck work across major private hospitals in the city – Apollo, Fortis Malar and Madras Medical Mission – demanding a hike in basic salary to Rs 15,000, besides annual increments and leave benefits.
- Strikes can occur because of the following reasons:
- Dissatisfaction with company policy
- Salary and incentive problems
- Increment not up to the mark
- Wrongful discharge or dismissal of workmen
- Withdrawal of any concession or privilege
- Hours of work and rest intervals
- Leaves with wages and holidays
- Bonus, profit sharing, Provident fund and gratuity
- Retrenchment of workmen and closure of establishment
- Dispute connected with minimum wages
Oct-2012: the United States giant retail store the Walmart workers have decided to go on a nationwide strike on a busy day of store in different cities were Walmart store has been located. Payment of low wages, unfair labour practices, poor working conditions and cutting the holidays were the reasons for going on a nationwide strike at different cities by Walmart stores workers. Workers claim that they need to have additional benefits when they are putting additional efforts by working for long hours especially on busy day.
TYPES OF STRIKE
1) Economic Strike:
Under this type of strike, labors stop their work to enforce their economic demands such as wages and bonus. In these kinds of strikes, workers ask for increase in wages, allowances like traveling allowance, house rent allowance, dearness allowance, bonus and other facilities such as increase in privilege leave and casual leave.
2) Sympathetic Strike:
When workers of one unit or industry go on strike in sympathy with workers of another unit or industry who are already on strike, it is called a sympathetic strike. The members of other unions involve themselves in a strike to support or express their sympathy with the members of unions who are on strike in other undertakings. The workers of sugar industry may go on strike in sympathy with their fellow workers of the textile industry who may already be on strike.
3) General Strike:
It means a strike by members of all or most of the unions in a region or an industry. It may be a strike of all the workers in a particular region of industry to force demands common to all the workers. These strikes are usually intended to create political pressure on the ruling government, rather than on any one employer. It may also be an extension of the sympathetic strike to express generalized protest by the workers.
4) Sit down Strike:
In this case, workers do not absent themselves from their place of work when they are on strike. They keep control over production facilities. But do not work. Such a strike is also known as 'pen down' or 'tool down' strike. Workers show up to their place of employment, but they refuse to work. They also refuse to leave, which makes it very difficult for employer to defy the union and take the workers' places. In June 1998, all the Municipal Corporation employees in Punjab observed a pen down strike to protest against the non-acceptance of their demands by the state government. 5) Slow Down Strike:
Employees remain on their jobs under this type of strike. They do not stop work, but restrict the rate of output in an organized manner. They adopt go-slow tactics to put pressure on the employers. 6) Hunger strike:
in this form of industrial protest, workmen resort to fasting near the workplace in order to demand the employer to redress their grievances.
Bajaj Auto workers - two-day hunger strike
On January 7 and 8 of 2017 the hunger strike was held by workers to protest the
management's anti-worker and anti-union activities. The strike was
called by Vishwa Kalyan Kamgar Sanghatana which had stated that Bajaj
Auto had adopted a strategy of terrorising and harassing workers. It
stated that the union's active members have been transferred and issued
false charge sheets and show-cause letters. Later, Bajaj Auto issued a
statement regarding the hunger strike called by its workers. It states
that "the facts are contrary to reasons being cited by Vishwa Kalyan
Kamgar Sanghatana (VKKS).
The statement said, "As far as transfer/deputation of workmen from one
plant to another is concerned, it has been a regular practice in the
company to transfer the workmen on the basis of requirement of skills
and need at other plants. In the present context, the union has filed
four cases in the court challenging the transfer of workmen from Chakan
to other plants. In three cases, where order has come, the Industrial
Court, Pune, in its interim order, has held that the company has every
right to transfer employees from one plant to other plants of the
company. VKKS leadership is always unreasonable and raises unrelated demands.
During last wage review, which was due from April 2013, the union had
come up with a similar unrealistic demand of allotment of shares to
workmen and resorted to strike which lasted for 50 days causing huge
financial losses to the workmen and ultimately realised their mistakes
and came back to work unconditionally. This time, it is the demand for
reinstatement of dismissed workmen.The union should not raise the issues which are in fact non-existent
and extend full support in growth and development of the company rather
than creating unnecessary hindrances in smooth functioning of the
" the statement mentioned.
Bajaj Auto says that various proposals were made to the union for the
salary increase, and negotiation was about to conclude. However, the
union put forth an unreasonable demand of reinstatement of the workers
of Chakan plant who were dismissed in the year 2013-14 from the services
of the company for committing various acts of misconduct. Their cases
are pending for adjudication before the court.
7) Wild cat strikes:
These strikes are conducted by workers or employees without the authority and consent of unions. In 2004, a significant number of advocated went on wildcat strike at the City Civil Court premises in Bangalore. They were protesting against some remarks allegedly made against them by an Assistant Commissioner.
Strike hits flight services at Frankfurt
Berlin, Feb 18, 2012: A small group of airfield traffic controllers caused severe disruptions to the flight operations at Germany’s Frankfurt airport for the second day as they stepped up their strike demanding shorter working hours and higher salaries.
Around 200 traffic controllers guiding the taxiing of aircraft on the tarmac, who struck work between 8 pm and 10 pm local time , forced the cancellation of around 300 flights at Germany’s largest airport.
“Airfield traffic controllers are determined to continue our strike until our demands are met,” GdF management board member, Mr Markus Siebers, told a German TV channel.
A seven-hour warning strike held on 14-2-2012 afternoon led to the cancellation of more than 170 flights and severe disruption to the flight operations.
They have been demanding between 40 and 50 per cent increase in their average annual salary of €45,000 and around ten per cent cut in their working hours to compensate for what they claim a “sharp increase in their workload” since the airport opened its fourth runway.
Cancellation of flights for the first two days of the strike, Fraport expects a loss of €4 million, the spokesman said.
Legal provisions on strikes in India
According to Industrial Disputes Act 1947, a strike is “a cessation of work by a body of persons employed in an industry acting in combination; or a concerted refusal of any number of persons who are or have been so employed to continue to work or to accept employment; or a refusal under a common understanding of any number of such persons to continue to work or to accept employment”.
This definition throws light on a few aspects of a strike. Firstly, a strike is a referred to as stoppage of work by a group of workers employed in a particular industry. Secondly, it also includes the refusal of a number of employees to continue work under their employer.
In a strike, a group of workers agree to stop working to protest against something they think is unfair where they work. Labors withhold their services in order to pressurize their employment or government to meet their demands. Demands made by strikers can range from asking for higher wages or better benefits to seeking changes in the workplace environment. Strikes sometimes occur so that employers listen more carefully to the workers and address their problems.
According to Industrial Disputes Act 1947, Strike
[Sec. 2 (q)]: Strike
means "a cessation of work by a body of persons employed in any industry
acting in combination or a concerted refusal under a common understanding of
any number of persons who are or have been so employed, to continue to work or
to accept employment". Mere stoppage of work does not come within the
meaning of strike unless it can be shown that such stoppage of work was a
concerted action for the enforcement of an industrial demand.
OF STRIKES IN INDIA
According to Sec. 22(1)
No person employed in a public utility service shall go on strike in breach of contract-
(a) without giving to the employer notice of strike, as hereinafter provided, within six weeks before striking; or
(b) within fourteen days of giving such notice; or
(c) before the expiry of the date of strike specified in any such notice as aforesaid; or
(d) during the pendency of any conciliation proceedings before a conciliation officer and seven days after the conclusion of such proceedings.
Subsection 1 is applicable to the workmen employed in public utility services and lays down that "no person employed in a public utility service shall go on without following below said steps
Significance of "within fourteen days & within six weeks":
- Notice of strike (with or without the date of strike) to the employer by their employees is mandatory.
- If the date of strike by the employees is not mentioned in the notice such notice is valid for six weeks only.
the date of strike is mentioned in the notice, the date of strike
should not be before the expiry of 14 days from the date of notice of
strike according to the clause (b).
- Therefore employees should
not go on strike before the expiry of 14 days from the date of issue of
notice of strike to the employer.
- Notice of strike without the
date of strike is valid for six weeks only, if employees do not go on
strike within six weeks, again a fresh notice of strike by employees is
necessary if they want to go on strike.
- Employees should not go on strike during the pendency of any conciliation proceedings
before a conciliation officer and seven days after the conclusion of
The clauses 'a' and 'b' appearing in sub-section (1) of Section 22 are significantly incorporated to prohibit the workmen from going on strike without giving a minimum of 14 days' notice to the employer, a copy of which is also served on the Conciliation Officer. The purpose is quite obvious. It intends to give some time for the employer to consider. over the demands of the workers who are now appeared to be more serious to go on strike in furtherance of their . demand. It also imposes statutory obligation on the Conciliation Officer to commence conciliation proceedings immediately so that the strife between the workmen and employer shall not result in stoppage of work and production.
The sub-section(l) also prohibits the workers from going on strike before the expiry of the date mentioned in the strike (clause (c)). It necessarily follows that such date can be fixed after the period of fourteen days during which workers cannot go on strike (clause b). Now in clause (a) the phrase “within six weeks before striking” is incorporated to determine the effectiveness of the notice given by the workmen. In other words the notice of strike given by the workmen in accordance with Section 22 will be effective only for a period of six weeks, after the expiry of which, another fresh notice would be required. This can be explained more clearly by an example. Suppose workmen give a notice of strike under Section 22 on 1.1.2001 and fix the date to go on strike as 20.1.2001. Now they cannot go on strike before 20.1.2001 as is required under clause c. They cannot fix any date in the notice in this case before 14.1.2001 as they are prevented from going on strike “within 14 days” of giving such notice by virtue of clause (b). Thus the requirements of both the clauses (b) and (c) arc complied with. Now suppose workmen do not go on strike on or after 20.1.2001, the date fixed by them in the notice of strike and kept quite for several months. Then suddenly they go on strike on any day after several months. This situation would defeat the very purpose of the I.D. Act to avert stoppage of
work. Therefore to avoid such situation it is laid down in clause (a) that the workmen cannot go on strike “without giving to the employer notice of strike within six weeks before striking”. It means that, in this example, the workmen cannot go on strike in consequence to their notice given on 1.1.2001 after the expiry of six weeks i.e. 15.2.2001, thus the effect of the notice is confined to a period of six weeks requiring the notice “within six weeks before striking”.
Lastly the workmen cannot go on strike during the period of pendency of any conciliation proceeding before the Conciliation Officer and seven days after the conclusion of such proceedings (clause d).
Same conditions are incorporated under sub-section (2) relating to the employers who, too, cannot declare lockout without following the requirements laid down in clauses (a) to (d) of sub-section 2.
It must be noted .hat Section 2? of the I.D. Act does not totally prohibit the strike or lockout, but requires the parties engaged in Public Utility Service to give notice before resorting to the double-edged weapon of strike or lockout. This was also clarified by Court in State of Bihar v. Deodhar Jha
New Delhi,2012: Air India pilots was called for strike on May 7 and continued till July 3, is the second longest strike Indian aviation history, has caused loss of Rs. 600 crores to Air India Management. The reasons behind commencement of strike by Air India pilots were irregularities and non-payment of salaries to pilots by Air India management. On this reason 101 pilots were dismissed from the services for not attending their duties to run flights and for causing loss to the management and Air India management approached the Delhi High Court requesting it to consider as illegal strike by pilots. Delhi High Court supported Air India management and declared it as illegal strike on the grounds of not following the procedure of strike. On July 4 Delhi High Court gave them 48 hours to join duty and asked the management to consider their grievances. Pilots on strike have agreed to join duties and also demanded to reinstate dismissed pilots into the services.
Air India management is believed to have offered to withdraw legal proceedings on 11-july-2012 related to the pilots' strike during negotiations before the Deputy Labour Commissioner but little headway was made on the issue of reinstatement of 101 sacked pilots.
On day two of the conciliation (mediation) proceedings, it is understood that there was some amount of cooling off from both sides which had remained adamant on their respective stands on key issues.
General prohibition of strikes and lock- outs [Section 23] of The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947,
General prohibition of strikes and lock- outs.-
No workman who is employed in any industrial establishment shall go on
strike in breach of contract and no employer of any such workman shall
declare a lock- out--
(a) during the pendency of conciliation proceedings before a Board and seven days after the conclusion of such proceedings;
during the pendency of proceedings before a Labour Court, Tribunal or
National Tribunal] and two months after the conclusion of such
(bb) during the pendency of arbitration proceedings
before an arbitrator and two months after the conclusion of such
proceedings, where a notification has been issued under sub- section
(3A) of section 10A; or] [10A. Voluntary reference of disputes to arbitration]
during any period in which a settlement or award is in operation, in
respect of any of the matters covered by the settlement or award.
legal strikes and Lockouts [Section 24 of ID Act 1947]
strike or a lockout shall be illegal, if employers or worker who ever
disobeys or fails to follow [Sec 22, 23, 10(3), 10-A (4-A)] for
commencing strikes or (3)
A lock-out declared in consequence of an illegal strike or a strike
declared in consequence of an illegal lock-out shall not be deemed to be
lockout, those strikes and lockout are said to illegal.
22 Prohibition of strikes and Lockouts (Notice is mandatory in public utility services)
prohibition of strikes and Lockouts (if said matter is pending before
board, a Labour Court, Tribunal or national tribunal or arbitrator as mention under Sec 10 & 10A or settlement or about is in operation)
10 Reference of disputes to Boards, courts or Tribunals
10A Voluntary reference of disputes to arbitration
.Penalty for illegal strikes and lock-outs. [Section 26] of the Industrial Dispute Act 1947.
Penalty for illegal strikes and lock-outs.-
(1) Any workman who commences, continues or otherwise acts in
furtherance of, a strike which is illegal under this Act, shall be
punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one month,
or with fine which may extend to fifty rupees, or with both.
Any employer who commences, continues, or otherwise acts in furtherance
of a lock-out which is illegal under this Act, shall be punishable with
imprisonment for a term which may extend to one month, or with fine
which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.
In the People's Republic of China and the Former Soviet Union
In some "Marxist-Leninist" regimes, such as the former USSR or the People's Republic of China, striking is illegal and viewed as counter-revolutionary (see Trade unions in the Soviet Union, All-China Federation of Trade Unions). Since the government in such systems claims to represent the working class, it has been argued that unions and strikes were not necessary. In 1976, China signed the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which guaranteed the right to unions and striking, but Chinese officials declared that they had no interest in allowing these liberties. (In June 2008, however, the municipal government in Shenzhen in southern China introduced draft labour regulations, which labour rights advocacy groups say would, if implemented, virtually restore Chinese workers' right to strike.). Trade unions in the Soviet Union served in part as a means to educate workers about the country's economic system. Lenin referred to trade unions as "Schools of Communism." They were essentially state propaganda and control organs to regulate the workforce, also providing them with social activities. In France
In France, the right to strike is recognized and guaranteed by the Constitution.
A "minimum service" during strikes in public transport was a promise of Nicolas Sarkozy during his campaign for the French presidential election. A law "on social dialogue and continuity of public service in regular terrestrial transports of passengers" was adopted on August 12, 2007, and it took effect on 1 January 2008.
This law, amongst other measures, forces certain categories of public transport workers (such as train and bus drivers) to declare to their employer 48 hours in advance if they intend to go on strike. Should they go on strike without having declared their intention to do so beforehand, they leave themselves open to sanctions.
The unions did and still do oppose this law and argue these 48 hours are used not only to pressure the workers but also to keep files on the more militant workers, who will more easily be undermined in their careers by the employers. Most importantly, they argue this law prevents the more hesitant workers from making the decision to join the strike the day before, once they've been convinced to do so by their colleagues and more particularly the union militants, who maximise their efforts in building the strike (by handing out leaflets, organising meetings, discussing the demands with their colleagues) in the last few days preceding the strike. This law makes it also more difficult for the strike to spread rapidly to other workers, as they are required to wait at least 48 hours before joining the strike.
This law also makes it easier for the employers to organise the production as it may use its human resources more effectively, knowing beforehand who is going to be at work and not, thus undermining, albeit not that much, the effects of the strike.
However, this law has not had much effect as strikes in public transports still occur in France and at times, the workers refuse to comply by the rules of this law. The public transport industry - public or privately owned - remains very militant in France and keen on taking strike action when their interests are threatened by the employers or the government.
The public transport workers in France, in particular the "Cheminots" (employees of the national French railway company) are often seen as the most radical "vanguard" of the French working class. This law has not, in the eyes of many, changed this fact.
In the United Kingdom
The Industrial Relations Act 1971 was repealed through the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1974, sections of which were repealed by the Employment Act 1982.
The Code of Practice on Industrial Action Ballots and Notices, and sections 22 and 25 of the Employment Relations Act 2004, which concern industrial action notices, commenced on 1 October 2005.
Legislation was enacted in the aftermath of the 1919 police strikes, forbidding British police from both taking industrial action, and discussing the possibility with colleagues. The Police Federation which was created at the time to deal with employment grievances, and provide representation to police officers, has increasingly put pressure on the government, and repeatedly threatened strike action.
In the United States
The Railway Labor Act bans strikes by United States airline and railroad employees except in narrowly defined circumstances. The National Labor Relations Act generally permits strikes, but provides a mechanism to enjoin strikes in industries in which a strike would create a national emergency. The federal government most recently invoked these statutory provisions to obtain an injunction requiring the International Longshore and Warehouse Union return to work in 2002 after having been locked out by the employer group, the Pacific Maritime Association.
Some jurisdictions prohibit all strikes by public employees, under laws such as the "Taylor Law" in New York. Other jurisdictions impose strike bans only on certain categories of workers, particularly those regarded as critical to society: police and firefighters are among the groups commonly barred from striking in these jurisdictions. Some states, such as Michigan, Iowa or Florida, do not allow teachers in public schools to strike. Workers have sometimes circumvented these restrictions by falsely claiming inability to work due to illness — this is sometimes called a "sickout" or "blue flu", the latter receiving its name from the uniforms worn by police officers, who are traditionally prohibited from striking. The term "red flu" has sometimes been used to describe this action when undertaken by firefighters.
Postal workers involved in 1978 wildcat strikes in Jersey City, Kearny, New Jersey, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. were fired under the presidency of Jimmy Carter, and President Ronald Reagan fired air traffic controllers and the PATCO union after the air traffic controllers' strike of 1981.
When workers are dissuaded from work by stationing certain men at the factory gates, such a step is known as picketing. If picketing does not involve any violence, it is perfectly legal. Pickets are workers who are on strike that stand at the entrance to their workplace. It is basically a method of drawing public attention towards the fact that there is a dispute between the management and employees.
The purpose of picketing is:
- to stop or persuade workers not to go to work
- to tell the public about the strike
- to persuade workers to take their union's side GHERAO
Gherao in Hindi means to surround. It denotes a collective action initiated by a group of workers under which members of the management are prohibited from leaving the industrial establishment premises by workers who block the exit gates by forming human barricades. The workers may gherao the members of the management by blocking their exits and forcing them to stay inside their cabins.The main object of gherao is to inflict physical and mental torture to the person being gherao and hence this weapon disturbs the industrial peace to a great extent.