Strike action

Strike action, also called labor strike, labour strike, 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 common during the Industrial Revolution, when mass labor became important in factories and mines. In most countries, strike actions were quickly made illegal, as factory owners had far more power than workers. Most Western countries partially legalized striking in the late 19th or early 20th centuries.

Strikes are sometimes used to pressure governments to change policies. Occasionally, strikes destabilize the rule of a particular political party or ruler; in such cases, strikes are often part of a broader social movement taking the form of a campaign of civil resistance. Notable examples are the 1980 Gdańsk Shipyard, and the 1981 Warning Strike, led by Lech Wałęsa. These strikes were significant in the long campaign of civil resistance for political change in Poland, and were an important mobilizing effort that contributed to the fall of the Iron Curtain and the end of communist party rule in eastern Europe.[1]

Ladies tailors strikers
Female tailors on strike, New York City, February 1910.


Theodor Kittelsen Streik 1879
Strike action (1879), painting by Theodor Kittelsen


The use of the English word "strike" was first seen in 1768, when sailors, in support of demonstrations in London, "struck" or removed the topgallant sails of merchant ships at port, thus crippling the ships.[2][3][4] Official publications have typically used the more neutral words "work stoppage" or "industrial dispute".

Pre-industrial strikes

The first historically certain account of strike action was towards the end of the 20th dynasty, under Pharaoh Ramses III in ancient Egypt on 14 November 1152 BC. The artisans of the Royal Necropolis at Deir el-Medina walked off their jobs because they had not been paid.[5][6] The Egyptian authorities raised the wages.

An early predecessor of the general strike may have been the secessio plebis in ancient Rome. In The Outline Of History, H.G. Wells characterized this event as "the general strike of the plebeians; the plebeians seem to have invented the strike, which now makes its first appearance in history."[7] Their first strike occurred because they "saw with indignation their friends, who had often served the state bravely in the legions, thrown into chains and reduced to slavery at the demand of patrician creditors."[7]

During and after the Industrial Revolution

"Der Streik" von Robert Koehler
Agitated workers face the factory owner in The Strike, painted by Robert Koehler in 1886

The strike action only became a feature of the political landscape with the onset of the Industrial Revolution. For the first time in history, large numbers of people were members of the industrial working class; they lived in cities and exchanged their labor for payment. By the 1830s, when the Chartist movement was at its peak in Britain, a true and widespread 'workers consciousness' was awakening. In 1842 the demands for fairer wages and conditions across many different industries finally exploded into the first modern general strike. After the second Chartist Petition was presented to Parliament in April 1842 and rejected, the strike began in the coal mines of Staffordshire, England, and soon spread through Britain affecting factories, mills in Lancashire and coal mines from Dundee to South Wales and Cornwall.[8] Instead of being a spontaneous uprising of the mutinous masses, the strike was politically motivated and was driven by an agenda to win concessions. Probably as much as half of the then industrial work force were on strike at its peak – over 500,000 men. The local leadership marshalled a growing working class tradition to politically organize their followers to mount an articulate challenge to the capitalist, political establishment. Friedrich Engels, an observer in London at the time, wrote:

by its numbers, this class has become the most powerful in England, and woe betide the wealthy Englishmen when it becomes conscious of this fact ... The English proletarian is only just becoming aware of his power, and the fruits of this awareness were the disturbances of last summer.[9]

As the 19th century progressed, strikes became a fixture of industrial relations across the industrialized world, as workers organized themselves to collectively bargain for better wages and standards with their employers. Karl Marx has condemned the theory of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon criminalizing strike action in his work The Poverty of Philosophy.[10]

In 1937 there were 4,740 strikes in the United States.[11] This was the greatest strike wave in American labor history. The number of major strikes and lockouts in the U.S. fell by 97% from 381 in 1970 to 187 in 1980 to only 11 in 2010. Companies countered the threat of a strike by threatening to close or move a plant.[12][13]

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights adopted in 1967 ensure the right to strike in Article 8 and European Social Charter adopted in 1961 also ensure the right to strike in Article 6.

The Farah Strike, 1972-1974, labeled the "strike of the century," and it was organized and led by Mexican American women predominantly in El Paso, Texas. [14]


Unison strike rally Oxford 20060328
A rally of the trade union UNISON in Oxford during a strike on 28 March 2006.

Most strikes are undertaken by labor unions during collective bargaining as a last resort. The object of collective bargaining is for the employer and the union to come to an agreement over wages, benefits, and working conditions. A collective bargaining agreement may include a clause which prohibits the union from striking during the term of the agreement, known as a "no-strike clause." No-strike clauses arose in the United States immediately following World War II.[15] Some in the labor movement consider no-strike clauses to be an unnecessary detriment to unions in the collective bargaining process.[16]

Generally, strikes are rare: according to the News Media Guild, 98% of union contracts in the United States are settled each of the 67 years without a strike. Occasionally, workers decide to strike without the sanction of a labor union, either because the union refuses to endorse such a tactic, or because the workers concerned are non-unionized. Such strikes are often described as unofficial. Strikes without formal union authorization are also known as wildcat strikes.

In many countries, wildcat strikes do not enjoy the same legal protections as recognized union strikes, and may result in penalties for the union members who participate or their union. The same often applies in the case of strikes conducted without an official ballot of the union membership, as is required in some countries such as the United Kingdom.

A strike may consist of workers refusing to attend work or picketing outside the workplace to prevent or dissuade people from working in their place or conducting business with their employer. Less frequently workers may occupy the workplace, but refuse either to do their jobs or to leave. This is known as a sit-down strike. A similar tactic is the work-in, where employees occupy the workplace but still continue work, often without pay, which attempts to show they are still useful, or that worker self-management can be successful. For instance, this occurred with factory occupations in the Biennio Rosso strikes - the "two red years" of Italy from 1919-1920.

Another unconventional tactic is work-to-rule (also known as an Italian strike, in Italian: Sciopero bianco), in which workers perform their tasks exactly as they are required to but no better. For example, workers might follow all safety regulations in such a way that it impedes their productivity or they might refuse to work overtime. Such strikes may in some cases be a form of "partial strike" or "slowdown".

During the development boom of the 1970s in Australia, the Green ban was developed by certain unions described by some as more socially conscious. This is a form of strike action taken by a trade union or other organized labor group for environmentalist or conservationist purposes. This developed from the black ban, strike action taken against a particular job or employer in order to protect the economic interests of the strikers.

United States labor law also draws a distinction, in the case of private sector employers covered by the National Labor Relations Act, between "economic" and "unfair labor practice" strikes. An employer may not fire, but may permanently replace, workers who engage in a strike over economic issues. On the other hand, employers who commit unfair labor practices (ULPs) may not replace employees who strike over them, and must fire any strikebreakers they have hired as replacements in order to reinstate the striking workers.

Battle strike 1934
Teamsters, wielding pipes, clash with armed police in the streets of Minneapolis during a 1934 strike.

Strikes may be specific to a particular workplace, employer, or unit within a workplace, or they may encompass an entire industry, or every worker within a city or country. Strikes that involve all workers, or a number of large and important groups of workers, in a particular community or region are known as general strikes. Under some circumstances, strikes may take place in order to put pressure on the State or other authorities or may be a response to unsafe conditions in the workplace.

A sympathy strike is, in a way, a small scale version of a general strike in which one group of workers refuses to cross a picket line established by another as a means of supporting the striking workers. Sympathy strikes, once the norm in the construction industry in the United States, have been made much more difficult to conduct due to decisions of the National Labor Relations Board permitting employers to establish separate or "reserved" gates for particular trades, making it an unlawful secondary boycott for a union to establish a picket line at any gate other than the one reserved for the employer it is picketing. Sympathy strikes may be undertaken by a union as an orgition or by individual union members choosing not to cross a picket line.

A jurisdictional strike in United States labor law refers to a concerted refusal to work undertaken by a union to assert its members’ right to particular job assignments and to protest the assignment of disputed work to members of another union or to unorganized workers.

A student strike has the students (sometimes supported by faculty) not attending schools. In some cases, the strike is intended to draw media attention to the institution so that the grievances that are causing the students to "strike" can be aired before the public; this usually damages the institution's (or government's) public image. In other cases, especially in government-supported institutions, the student strike can cause a budgetary imbalance and have actual economic repercussions for the institution.

A hunger strike is a deliberate refusal to eat. Hunger strikes are often used in prisons as a form of political protest. Like student strikes, a hunger strike aims to worsen the public image of the target.

A "sickout", or (especially by uniformed police officers) "blue flu", is a type of strike action in which the strikers call in sick. This is used in cases where laws prohibit certain employees from declaring a strike. Police, firefighters, air traffic controllers, and teachers in some U.S. states are among the groups commonly barred from striking usually by state and federal laws meant to ensure the safety or security of the general public.

Newspaper writers may withhold their names from their stories as a way to protest actions of their employer.[17]

Activists may form "flying squad" groups for strikes or other actions to disrupt the workplace or another aspect of capitalism: supporting other strikers or unemployed workers, participating in protests against globalization, or opposing abusive landlords.[18]

Legal prohibitions


On 30 January 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that there is a constitutional right to strike.[19] In this 5–2 majority decision, Justice Rosalie Abella ruled that "[a]long with their right to associate, speak through a bargaining representative of their choice, and bargain collectively with their employer through that representative, the right of employees to strike is vital to protecting the meaningful process of collective bargaining..." [paragraph 24]. This decision adopted the dissent by Chief Justice Brian Dickson in a 1987 Supreme Court ruling on a reference case brought by the province of Alberta. The exact scope of this right to strike remains unclear and will no doubt be subject to further litigation. Prior to this Supreme Court decision, the federal and/or provincial governments had the ability to introduce "back to work legislation", a special law that blocks the strike action (or a lockout) from happening or continuing on further. Canadian governments could also have imposed binding arbitration or a new contract on the disputing parties. Back to work legislation was first used in 1950 during a railway strike, and as of 2012 had been used 33 times by the federal government for those parts of the economy that are regulated federally (grain handling, rail and air travel, and the postal service), and in more cases provincially. In addition, certain parts of the economy can be proclaimed "essential services" in which case all strikes are illegal.[20]

Examples include when the government of Canada passed back to work legislation during the 2011 Canada Post lockout and the 2012 CP Rail strike, thus effectively ending the strikes. In 2016, the government's use of back to work legislation during the 2011 Canada Post lockout was ruled unconstitutional, with the judge specifically referencing the Supreme Court of Canada's 2015 decision Saskatchewan Federation of Labour v Saskatchewan.[21]

People's Republic of China and the former Soviet Union

Strajk sierpniowy w Stoczni Gdańskiej im. Lenina 09
Lenin Shipyard workers, Poland, on strike in August 1980, with the Soviet-modeled trade union name crossed out in protest

In some Marxist–Leninist states, such as the former USSR or the People's Republic of China, striking was illegal and viewed as counter-revolutionary. 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.[22] (In June 2008, however, the municipal government in Shenzhen in southern China introduced draft labor regulations, which labor rights advocacy groups say would, if implemented, virtually restore Chinese workers' right to strike.[23]) Trade unions in the Soviet Union served in part as a means to educate workers about the country's economic system. Vladimir 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.


La grève des mineurs du Pas-de-Calais, 1906
Strike in Pas-de-Calais (1906)

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 12 August 2007, and it took effect on 1 January 2008.

This law, among 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 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 maximize their efforts in building the strike (by handing out leaflets, organizing 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 organize 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.

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.[24]

Prison officers have gained and lost the right to strike over the years; most recently despite it being illegal, they walked out on 15 November 2016.[25]

United States

Striker assembly
A strike leader addressing strikers in Gary, Indiana in 1919.

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, teachers and firefighters are among the groups commonly barred from striking in these jurisdictions. Some states, such as New Jersey, 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.

Often, specific regulations on strike actions exist for employees in prisons. The Code of Federal Regulations declares "encouraging others to refuse to work, or to participate in a work stoppage" by prisoners to be a "High Severity Level Prohibited Act" and authorizes solitary confinement for periods of up to a year for each violation.[26] The California Code of Regulations states that "[p]articipation in a strike or work stoppage", "[r]efusal to perform work or participate in a program as ordered or assigned", and "[r]ecurring failure to meet work or program expectations within the inmate's abilities when lesser disciplinary methods failed to correct the misconduct" by prisoners is "serious misconduct" under §3315(a)(3)(L), leading to gang affiliation under CCR §3000.[27]

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.


New York garbage cart being stoned
Strikebreaking driver and cart being stoned during sanitation worker strike. New York City, 1911.

A strikebreaker (sometimes derogatorily called a scab, blackleg, or knobstick) is a person who works despite an ongoing strike. Strikebreakers are usually individuals who are not employed by the company prior to the trade union dispute, but rather hired after or during the strike to keep the organization running. "Strikebreakers" may also refer to workers (union members or not) who cross picket lines to work.

Irwin, Jones, McGovern (2008) believe that the term "scab" is part of a larger metaphor involving strikes. They argue that the picket line is symbolic of a wound and those who break its borders to return to work are the scabs who bond that wound. Others have argued that the word is not a part of a larger metaphor but, rather, was an old-fashioned English insult whose meaning narrowed over time.

"Blackleg" is an older word and is found in the late-nineteenth/early-twentieth century folk song from Northumberland, "Blackleg Miner". The term does not necessarily owe its origins to this tune of unknown origin. The song is, however, notable for its lyrics that encourage violent acts against strikebreakers.

Chicago Tribune 1986 strikebreakers
Strike breakers, Chicago Tribune strike, 1986, Chicago, Illinois

Union strikebreaking

The concept of union strikebreaking or union scabbing refers to any circumstance in which union workers themselves cross picket lines to work.

Unionized workers are sometimes required to cross the picket lines established by other unions due to their organizations having signed contracts which include no-strike clauses. The no-strike clause typically requires that members of the union not conduct any strike action for the duration of the contract; such actions are called sympathy or secondary strikes. Members who honor the picket line in spite of the contract frequently face discipline, for their action may be viewed as a violation of provisions of the contract. Therefore, any union conducting a strike action typically seeks to include a provision of amnesty for all who honored the picket line in the agreement that settles the strike.

No-strike clauses may also prevent unionized workers from engaging in solidarity actions for other workers even when no picket line is crossed. For example, striking workers in manufacturing or mining produce a product which must be transported. In a situation where the factory or mine owners have replaced the strikers, unionized transport workers may feel inclined to refuse to haul any product that is produced by strikebreakers, yet their own contract obligates them to do so.

Historically the practice of union strikebreaking has been a contentious issue in the union movement, and a point of contention between adherents of different union philosophies. For example, supporters of industrial unions, which have sought to organize entire workplaces without regard to individual skills, have criticized craft unions for organizing workplaces into separate unions according to skill, a circumstance that makes union strikebreaking more common. Union strikebreaking is not, however, unique to craft unions.

Antistrike action

Most strikes called by unions are somewhat predictable; they typically occur after the contract has expired. However, not all strikes are called by union organizations — some strikes have been called in an effort to pressure employers to recognize unions. Other strikes may be spontaneous actions by working people. Spontaneous strikes are sometimes called "wildcat strikes"; they were the key fighting point in May 1968 in France; most commonly, they are responses to serious (often life-threatening) safety hazards in the workplace rather than wage or hour disputes, etc.

Whatever the cause of the strike, employers are generally motivated to take measures to prevent them, mitigate the impact, or to undermine strikes when they do occur.

Giant inflatable rat
To bring public attention, a giant inflatable rat (named 'Scabby') is used in the U.S. at the site of a labor dispute. The rat represents strike-breaking replacement workers, otherwise known as 'scabs'.

Strike preparation

Companies which produce products for sale will frequently increase inventories prior to a strike. Salaried employees may be called upon to take the place of strikers, which may entail advance training. If the company has multiple locations, personnel may be redeployed to meet the needs of reduced staff.

Companies may also take out strike insurance prior to an anticipated strike, to help offset the losses which the strike would cause.

One of the weapons traditionally wielded by already-established unions is strike action. Some companies may decline entirely to negotiate with the union, and respond to the strike by hiring replacement workers. This may create a crisis situation for strikers — do they stick to their original plan and rely upon their solidarity, or is there a chance that the strike may be lost? How long will the strike last? Will strikers' jobs still be there if the strike fails? Are other strikers defecting from the strike? Companies that hire strikebreakers typically play upon these fears when they attempt to convince union members to abandon the strike and cross the union's picket line.

Unions faced with a strikebreaking situation may try to inhibit the use of strikebreakers by a variety of methods — establishing picket lines where the strikebreakers enter the workplace; discouraging strike breakers from taking, or from keeping, strikebreaking jobs; raising the cost of hiring strikebreakers for the company; or employing public relations tactics. Companies may respond by increasing security forces and seeking court injunctions.

Examining conditions in the late 1990s, John Logan observed that union busting agencies helped to "transform economic strikes into a virtually suicidal tactic for U.S. unions." Logan further observed, "as strike rates in the United States have plummeted to historic low levels, the demand for strike management firms has also declined."[28]

In the U.S., as established in the National Labor Relations Act there is a legally protected right for private sector employees to strike to gain better wages, benefits, or working conditions and they cannot be fired. Striking for economic reasons (like protesting workplace conditions or supporting a union's bargaining demands) allows an employer to hire permanent replacements. The replacement worker can continue in the job and then the striking worker must wait for a vacancy. But if the strike is due to unfair labor practices, the strikers replaced can demand immediate reinstatement when the strike ends. If a collective bargaining agreement is in effect, and it contains a "no-strike clause", a strike during the life of the contract could result in the firing of all striking employees which could result in dissolution of that union. Although this is legal it could be viewed as union busting.

Strike breaking

Some companies negotiate with the union during a strike; other companies may see a strike as an opportunity to eliminate the union. This is sometimes accomplished by the importation of replacement workers, strikebreakers or "scabs". Historically, strike breaking has often coincided with union busting. It was also called 'Black legging' in the early 20th century, during the Russian socialist movement.[29]

Union busting

Stanisław Lentz, Strajk
Strike, painting by Stanisław Lentz

One method of inhibiting or ending a strike is firing union members who are striking which can result in elimination of the union. Although this has happened it is rare due to laws regarding firing and "right to strike" having a wide range of differences in the US depending on whether union members are public or private sector. Laws also vary country to country. In the UK, "It is important to understand that there is no right to strike in UK law."[30] Employees who strike risk dismissal, unless it is an official strike (one called or endorsed by their union) in which case they are protected from unlawful dismissal, and cannot be fired for at least 12 weeks. UK laws regarding work stoppages and strikes are defined within the Employment Relations Act 1999 and the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

One of the most significant cases of mass-dismissals in the UK in 2005 involved the sacking of over 600 Gate Gourmet employees at Heathrow Airport,[31][32] to which the media responded with outrage. Under the direction of Gate Gourmet's HR Director Andy Cook, according to BBC: "Gate Gourmet sacked more than 600 staff last week in a working practices row, prompting a walkout by British Airways ground staff that paralysed flights and stranded thousands of travellers in the UK." Andy Cook, Gate Gourmet's director of human resources at that time, said: "The company had not been looking to cut the size of the protests, only stop the minority engaged in harassment."[33] Cook is now CEO of the UK labor relations advisory firm Marshall-James Global Solutions Ltd.[34]

In 1962 US President John F. Kennedy issued Executive Order #10988[35] which permitted federal employees to form trade unions but prohibited strikes (codified in 1966 at 5 U.S.C. 7311 - Loyalty and Striking). In 1981, after public sector union PATCO (Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization) went on strike illegally, President Ronald Reagan fired all of the controllers. His action resulted in the dissolution of the union. PATCO reformed to become the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.

Oběti srážky stávkujících s vojskem v dubnu 1917
Victims of a clash between striking workers and the army in Prostějov, Austria-Hungary, April 1917

In the U.S., as established in the National Labor Relations Act there is a legally protected right for private sector employees to strike to gain better wages, benefits, or working conditions and they cannot be fired. Striking for economic reasons (i.e., protesting workplace conditions or supporting a union's bargaining demands) allows an employer to hire permanent replacements. The replacement worker can continue in the job and then the striking worker must wait for a vacancy. But if the strike is due to unfair labor practices (ULP), the strikers replaced can demand immediate reinstatement when the strike ends. If a collective bargaining agreement is in effect, and it contains a "no-strike clause", a strike during the life of the contract could result in the firing of all striking employees which could result in dissolution of that union.


Another counter to a strike is a lockout, the form of work stoppage in which an employer refuses to allow employees to work. Two of the three employers involved in the Caravan park grocery workers strike of 2003-2004 locked out their employees in response to a strike against the third member of the employer bargaining group. Lockouts are, with certain exceptions, lawful under United States labor law.


Ramon Casas Charge
The charge by Ramon Casas (1899)

Historically, some employers have attempted to break union strikes by force. One of the most famous examples of this occurred during the Homestead Strike of 1892. Industrialist Henry Clay Frick sent private security agents from the Pinkerton National Detective Agency to break the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers strike at a Homestead, Pennsylvania steel mill. Two strikers were killed, twelve wounded, along with two Pinkertons killed and eleven wounded. In the aftermath, Frick was shot in the neck and then stabbed by Alexander Berkman, surviving the attack, while Berkman was sentenced to 22 years in prison.




  • Statschka ("Strike"), Director: Sergei Eisenstein, Soviet Union 1924
  • Brüder ("Brother"), Director: Werner Hochbaum, Germany 1929–On the general strike in the port of Hamburg, Germany in 1896/97
  • The Stars Look Down, Director: Carol Reed, England 1939 – Film about a strike over safety standards at a coal mine in North-East England - based on the Cronin novel
  • The Grapes of Wrath a 1940 film by John Ford includes description of migrant workers striking, and its violent breaking by employers, assisted by the police. Based on the novel by John Steinbeck.
  • Salt of the Earth, Director: Herbert J. Biberman, USA 1953–Fictionalized account of an actual zinc-miners' strike in Silver City, New Mexico, in which women took over the picket line to circumvent an injunction barring "striking miners" from company property. The striking women were largely played by real members of the strike, and one woman was deported to Mexico while filming. The union organizer Clinton Jencks (from Jencks v. United States fame) also participated.
  • The Molly Maguires, Director: Martin Ritt, 1970 film starring Sean Connery and Richard Harris. Frustrated by the failure of strike action to achieve their industrial objectives, a secret society among Pennsylvania coal miners sabotages the mine with explosives to try to get what their industrial action failed to obtain. A Pinkerton agent infiltrates them.
  • F.I.S.T, Director: Norman Jewison, 1978 – loosely based on the Teamsters union and former president Jimmy Hoffa.
  • Norma Rae, Director: Martin Ritt, 1979.
  • Matewan, Director: John Sayles, 1987 – critically acclaimed account of a coal mine-workers' strike and attempt to unionize in 1920 in Matewan, a small town in the hills of West Virginia.
  • Made in Dagenham, 2010 – based on the strike at Fords plant in Dagenham, England, UK, which won equal pay for female workers.

Other uses

  • Sometimes, "to go on strike" is used figuratively for machinery or equipment not working due to malfunction, e.g. "My computer's on strike".

See also


  1. ^ Aleksander Smolar, "Towards 'Self-limiting Revolution': Poland 1970-89", in Adam Roberts and Timothy Garton Ash (eds.), Civil Resistance and Power Politics: The Experience of Non-violent Action from Gandhi to the Present, Oxford University Press, 2009, pp. 127-43. This book contains accounts on certain other strike movements in other countries around the world aimed at overthrowing a regime or a foreign military presence.
  2. ^ "".
  3. ^ "A body of Sunderland.., and at the cross there read a paper, setting forth their grievances... After this they went on board the several ships in that harbour, and struck (lowered down) their yards, in order to prevent them from proceeding to sea." (Ann. Reg. 92, 1768), quoted in Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed., s.v. "strike, v.," sense 17; see also sense 24.
  4. ^ Worrall, Simon (1 September 2014). "Were Modern Ideas—and the American Revolution—Born on Ships at Sea?". National Geographic. National Geographic Society. Archived from the original on 31 August 2014. Retrieved 31 August 2014.
  5. ^ François Daumas, (1969). Ägyptische Kultur im Zeitalter der Pharaonen, pp. 309. Knaur Verlag, Munich
  6. ^ John Romer, Ancient Lives; the story of the Pharaoh's Tombmakers. London: Phoenix Press, 1984, pp. 116-123 See also E.F. Wente, "A letter of complaint to the Vizier To", in Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 20, 1961 and W.F. Edgerton, "The strikes in Ramses III's Twenty-ninth year", Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 10, 1951.
  7. ^ a b H.G. Wells, Outline Of History, Waverly Book Company, 1920, page 225
  8. ^ F.C.Mather (1974). "The General Strike of 1842: A Study in Leadership, Organisation and the Threat of Revolution during the Plug Plot Disturbance". George Allen & Unwin Ltd London. Retrieved 2008-01-30.
  9. ^ "Camatte: Origin and Function of the Party Form".
  10. ^ The Poverty of Philosophy, Part II, Section 5
  11. ^ "Abbreviated Timeline of the Modern Labor Movement Archived 29 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine Archived 29 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine", University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
  12. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2012 (2011) p 428 table 663" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 October 2011.
  13. ^ Aaron Brenner; et al. (2011). The Encyclopedia of Strikes in American History. M.E. Sharpe. pp. 234–35. ISBN 9780765626455.
  14. ^ "The Best of the Texas Century—Business". Texas Monthly. 2013-01-20. Retrieved 2018-12-07.
  15. ^ "A Wobbly Strategy for Fundamental Change - Industrial Workers of the World".
  16. ^ "No-Strike Clauses Hold Back Unions - Labor Notes". 2011-12-13.
  17. ^ "A note from the editor – Twin Cities". 2009-07-16.
  18. ^ Levant, Alex. "Flying Squads and the Crisis of Workers' Self-Organization". New Socialist (40). ISSN 1488-2698. Archived from the original on 19 October 2017. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
  19. ^ Saskatchewan Federation of Labour v Saskatchewan, 2015 SCC 4
  20. ^ "FAQ: Back-to-work legislation".
  21. ^ "CanLII Connects".
  22. ^ "Still waiting for Nike to do it," by Tim Connor, page 70.
  23. ^ 'Factory to the world will soon get the right to strike', by Venkatesan Vembu, Daily News and Analysis, 26 June 2008.
  24. ^ "Police in strike action threat". BBC News.
  25. ^ "Prison officers stage unofficial walkout on day of public sector action". The Daily Telegraph.
  26. ^ 28 C.F.R. 541.3
  27. ^ California Code of Regulations §3000, Gang means any … formal or informal organization, association or group of three or more persons which has a common name or identifying sign or symbol whose members and/or associates, individually or collectively, engage or have engaged, on behalf of that organization, association or group, in two or more acts which include, … acts of misconduct classified as serious pursuant to section 3315.
  28. ^ "The Union Avoidance Industry in the United States", British Journal of Industrial Relations, John Logan, Blackwell Publishing Ltd, December 2006, pages 651–675.
  29. ^ Arthur Koestler, Darkness at Noon, p. 60.
  30. ^ [LabourList],
  31. ^ [Workers Worldwide Back Their Heathrow Colleagues], "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 April 2013. Retrieved 10 January 2012.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  32. ^ [Reinstate Gate Gourmet Workers],
  33. ^ [BBC News 21 August 2005],
  34. ^ [Marshall-James website], Archived 13 September 2012 at Archived 13 September 2012 at
  35. ^ [Executive Order 10988],

Further reading

  • Norwood, Stephen H. Strikebreaking and Intimidation. Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 2002. ISBN 0-8078-2705-3
  • Montgomery, David. "Strikes in Nineteenth-Century America," Social Science History (1980) 4#1 pp. 81–104 in JSTOR, includes some comparative data
  • Silver, Beverly J. Forces of Labor: Workers' Movements and Globalization Since 1870. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003. ISBN 0-521-52077-0

External links

1936 Syrian general strike

The 1936 Syrian general strike (Arabic: الإضراب الستيني‎) was a 50-day strike that was organized as a response to the policies of the French occupation of Syria and Lebanon. The strike action paralyzed the country for two months and forced France to negotiate the Franco-Syrian Treaty of Independence with the National Bloc.

1982 South African Grand Prix

The 1982 South African Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held at Kyalami on 23 January 1982. It was the first race of the 1982 FIA Formula One World Championship.

The prelude to the race was notable for a strike action by the Grand Prix Drivers' Association, led by Niki Lauda and Didier Pironi, in protest at the new superlicence conditions imposed by FISA, which would have tied the drivers to a single team for up to three years. A late compromise was reached and the race went ahead. The drivers were subsequently fined between US$5,000 and US$10,000 and handed suspended race bans; however, the FIA Court of Appeal later reduced the penalties and criticised FISA's handling of the dispute.Turbocharged cars took the first six positions on the grid. Despite Alain Prost suffering a puncture while leading, he was able to recover to win the race. Lauda, in his first race after two years out of F1, finished fourth.

2002–03 Alpha Ethniki

The Alpha Ethiniki 2002–03 season was the 44th in its history and was won by Olympiacos, their 32nd league title. Olympiacos and Panathinaikos finished the League with the same points total but Olympiacos were crowned champions due to more favourable results between the two teams. It was a very dramatic end to the season, with the decisive game between the two clubs taking place in the second to last round. The season was interrupted by strike action after television broadcaster Alpha Digital collapsed in September 2002, following which the players didn't play for a month.

2008 Toronto Transit Commission strike

The 2008 TTC strike was as a legal strike action by Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) unionized employees that began on April 26, 2008 at 12:01 a.m. EDT. All bus, streetcar and subway in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, was suspended leaving thousands of people stranded across the city. Although the strike action was legal the Amalgamated Transit Union local 113 did not provide 48-hour notice of the service withdrawal as they had previously promised they would do. Instead, the ATU only provided 90 minutes' notice before the service withdrawal. Bob Kinnear president of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 113 claimed that the lack of an advance notice was necessary to protect the TTC employees from "angry and irrational members of the public".

2009 Royal Mail industrial disputes

The 2009 Royal Mail industrial disputes is an industrial dispute in the United Kingdom involving Royal Mail and members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU), which began in the summer of 2009. It was the country's first industrial action involving postal workers since 2007 and came about after the Communication Workers Union accused Royal Mail of refusing to enter into dialogue regarding how the implementation of modernisation plans would affect the job security of postal workers.

The strike action began on a local level after postal workers at Royal Mail offices in London and Edinburgh accused their bosses of cutting jobs and services, which they claimed broke the 2007 Pay and Modernisation Agreement, the agreement that was struck to end the 2007 strikes, and accused Royal Mail of threatening modernisation of the service. After a series of localised walkouts over the summer months, and after failing to reach an agreement, the CWU opened a national ballot for industrial action in September 2009.

On 8 October, it was announced that postal workers had voted three to one in favour of taking strike action over job security and working conditions. It was later announced that a national strike would be held on Thursday 22 October and Friday 23 October. After further talks failed, more strikes were announced to take place on Thursday 29 October, Friday 30 October and Saturday 31 October. Discussions continued throughout the second wave of strikes with proposals being put to both sides, but these were overshadowed by the announcement of a third walkout on Friday 6 November and Monday 9 November. However, on 5 November it was announced that strikes had been called off until the New Year to allow time for fresh talks to take place. A resolution to the dispute was finally reached following lengthy discussions on 8 March 2010, and on 27 April it was reported that postal workers voted to accept the deal.

2016–2019 United Kingdom rail strikes

Major industrial action in the form of periodic strikes and protests have been ongoing on the national railway network of the United Kingdom since April 2016, due to controversy surrounding the planned introduction of driver-only operation (DOO) by several train operating companies, abolishing the role of the train guard in operating passenger train doors, as this role would be able to be performed by train drivers themselves. Later strikes also included industrial disputes over pay rates, planned redundancies and working hours as factors.

Supporters claim that DOO will save costs and shorten journey times, although opponents of DOO claim that the scheme is unsafe to passengers as drivers may not have as good a visibility of the train doors as guards, who are able to step out onto the platform, currently do. Opponents of DOO also claim that the scheme could lead to hundreds of job losses to train guards, although several train operating companies have denied this, stating that guards will be redeployed to an otherwise equivalent role, which is to be retained, on-board.

The strikes started on 26 April 2016, initially on Govia Thameslink Railway's Southern trains, and have since spread to eight more rail franchises across the country. The strikes were led initially by Mick Cash, General Secretary of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT); the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF) union joined the strikes in November 2016, followed by the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA) union in January 2018. Opposition to the strikes was led by Prime Minister Theresa May and Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling, who labelled the strikes as "appalling" and "palpable nonsense".

Alain Hamer

Alain Hamer (born 10 December 1965 in Luxembourg City) is a Luxembourgian football referee. He was a referee in the 1995 FIFA Women's World Cup. He has refereed over 50 matches in the UEFA Champions League, the first in 2000–01. He has also refereed a match in the African Cup of Nations and close to 30 matches in the French Ligue 1. He has been a FIFA referee since 1993.Hamer was one of the referees who agreed to officiate Scottish Premier League matches in November 2010 after strike action was announced by the Scottish referees association. He was assigned the role of referee for the match between Celtic and Inverness on the Saturday and the match between Dundee United and Rangers a day later. Hamer was available to referee Scottish games due to a strike in his native country.Due to the lack of refereeing opportunities in Luxembourg, Hamer has frequently refereed in the professional leagues in the neighbouring countries of France and Belgium.

Communication Workers Union (United Kingdom)

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) is the main trade union in the United Kingdom for people working for telephone, cable, DSL and postal delivery companies. It has 110,000 members in Royal Mail as well as more in many other communication companies. Formed in 1995, by the merger of the Union of Communication Workers and National Communications Union, its current general secretary is Dave Ward. CWU members work for Royal Mail, the Post Office, BT, O2, cable TV, Accenture HR Services, EE, Virgin Media and other communication companies. Members' expertise includes engineering, computing, clerical, mechanical, driving, retail, financial and manual skills.

Council of Non-European Trade Unions

The Council of Non-European Trade Unions in South Africa was established in November 1941.Moses Kotane presided over the inaugural conference. Gana Makabeni, who had been the leader of the Coordinating Committee of African Trade Unions was elected president, and David Gosani elected secretary.

The war economy led to rapid increases of manufacturing industry, bringing large numbers of African workers into urban areas and increasing the price of food and other goods. This led to much increased industrial unrest. There were 37 registered strikes by African workers in 1941. This led to the government informally recognising African unions. After a one-day strike by the African workers organised by CNETU in December 1942 the Johannesburg City Council agreed to raise the salaries of its workers by 60%.In 1945 119 unions with 158,000 members, a majority from Johannesburg, were affiliated. These unions were not recognised by the government or the employers.

Gana Makabeni opposed strike action and campaigned for government recognition of African unions. In 1945 he was replaced by J. B. Marks. In 1946 it pushed, with the African National Congress and the South African Communist Party, unsuccessfully, for the African Mine Workers' Strike to become a General Strike.

By 1950 only 53 unions were still affiliated.

After the passing of the Native Labour (Settlement of Disputes) Act, 1953 it collapsed.

Labor unrest

Labor unrest is strike action or industrial action undertaken by labor unions, especially where labor disputes become violent. Such a conception of labor action was common in the United States in the 19th century.

Night Tube

The Night Tube and London Overground Night Service, often referred to simply as Night Tube is a service pattern on the London Underground and London Overground systems which provides night-time services to travellers on Friday and Saturday nights on the Central, Jubilee, Northern, Piccadilly, and Victoria lines, and a short section of the London Overground’s East London line.

Nils Hønsvald

Nils Hønsvald (4 December 1899 – 24 November 1971) was a Norwegian newspaper editor and politician for the Labour Party. He was one of the leading figures in Norwegian politics from 1945 to 1969. He served as President of the Nordic Council in 1958 and 1963.

Hønsvald was born in Horten, Vestfold County, Norway. He was editor of Østfold Arbeiderblad in Sarpsborg, regional newspaper for the Norwegian Labour Party which was discontinued in 1929 and editor of Sarpsborg Arbeiderblad, a local newspaper published in Sarpsborg (1929–1969).

He participated in the Left Communist Youth League's military strike action of 1924. He was convicted for assisting in this crime and sentenced to 120 days of prison. He was later present at the congress of 24 April 1927 when the Left Communist Youth League was merged with the Socialist Youth League to found the Workers' Youth League.During the occupation of Norway by Nazi Germany, he was arrested in March 1941. He was incarcerated at Møllergata 19 before being transferred to Åneby concentration camp and Grini concentration camp in May. He was released on 12 June 1941. In December 1944 he was arrested again, and was transferred from Fredrikstad to Grini, where he remained until the war's end.Hønsvald was Minister of Supplies and Reconstruction (1948–1950), and minister without ministry in 1950. Hønsvald was President of the Lagting (1961–1965) and President of the Odelsting (1965–1969). Nils Hønsvalds gate in Sarpsborg was named in his honor.

Overtime ban

An overtime ban is a form of industrial action where employees limit their working time to the hours specified in their contracts, refusing to work any overtime. Overtime bans are less disruptive than strike action, and since there is no breach of contract by the employees there is less chance of disciplinary action by the employer than there is with strikes. However, an overtime ban can have a significant impact on industries which normally operate outside of regular office hours, such as emergency services, public transport, or retail.

An overtime ban is similar to a work-to-rule, in that both involve employees refusing to do more than is strictly required of them. However, and in contrast with a work-to-rule, when an overtime ban is in place workers may still perform duties not required of them, providing they do not go outside their contracted hours.

Professional Footballers' Association

The Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) is the trade union for professional association footballers in England and Wales. The world's oldest professional sport trade union, it has 4,000 members.

The aims of the PFA are to protect, improve and negotiate the conditions, rights and status of all professional players by collective bargaining agreements.The PFA is affiliated with the Professional Footballers' Association Scotland. The Northern Ireland PFA disbanded in 1995.

Strike notice

A strike notice (or notice to strike) is a document served by members of a trade union or an analogous body of workers to an employer or negotiator stating an intent to commit an upcoming strike action. The document largely contains:

an overview of grievances and conditions

a statement that negotiations with the employer have failed

an intended time and duration for the strike

advice to prepare for the impact of the strike and return to the negotiating table at the earliestA strike notice is usually issued to an employer or negotiators after union leadership and participating workers have agreed on the set terms of a strike action. In contrast, a wildcat strike action usually involves workers going on strike without the approval of union leadership or the serving of a notice.

Strike notices are often legally required of public sector workers or unions within a specific period (i.e., 10 days before the intended strike action commencement).

The Vindicator

The Vindicator, also known at times as the Youngstown Vindicator, is a daily newspaper serving Youngstown, Ohio, United States and the Mahoning County region as well as southern Trumbull County and northern Columbiana County. The Vindicator was established in 1869. It is owned by the Maag family (longtime area residents) and is run by the Vindicator Printing Company, which also runs local NBC affiliate WFMJ-TV and WFMJ's digital subchannel, CW affiliate WBCB.

Its primary competitor is the Tribune Chronicle in nearby Warren, Ohio, though their news has more of a slant towards the Trumbull County and parts of northeastern Portage County areas as opposed to the more broad Vindicator.

Trade unions in Angola

Before 1975, while under Portuguese rule, Trade unions in Angola existed primarily as "occupational syndicates" - operating welfare services, but banned from collective bargaining and strike action. Independent African trade unions were illegal, however, some underground or exiled unions existed, and were involved in the struggle for Angolan independence.

When the Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (MPLA) came to power in 1975 the National Union of Angolan Workers (UNTA) became the sole national trade union centre. There is now an independent trade union centre as well, the General Centre of Independent and Free Unions of Angola.

Trade union membership in Angola is limited both by the small formal economy, and the high unemployment rate within the sector. The Government of Angola is the largest employer within the country, and wages within the government are set yearly, with consultation from unions, but without direct negotiations.

Trade unions in Armenia

Trade unions in Armenia are afforded the right to organized by the Armenian Constitution. The primary trade union centre is the Confederation of Trade Unions of Armenia (CTUA), which is the reconstituted remains of the former Soviet trade union structure.

Unions which are involved in state run enterprises still benefit from check-off dues, but organization and strike action in the private sector is more subdued, in part because of a lack of protection against reprisals.

Wildcat strike action

A wildcat strike action, often referred to as a wildcat strike, is a strike action undertaken by unionized workers without union leadership's authorization, support, or approval; this is sometimes termed an unofficial industrial action.

Trade unions and organized labor
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