chapter  13
17 Pages

INDUSTRIAL ACTION AND THE INDIVIDUAL WORKER

INDUSTRIAL ACTION AND THE COMMON LAW

Industrial action has wide-ranging legal implications of both an individual and collective nature. Ordinarily, strike action (which is the total withdrawal of labour) results in a fundamental breach of an employment contract.1 On this repudiatory breach, the employer may lawfully summarily dismiss the employee at common law without notice, sue for the loss arising from this breach of contract,2 or refuse to pay any further wages until the employee returns to work.3 An employer, however, cannot enforce a return to work by way of an order for specific performance of the contract, or injunction to restrain a breach or threatened breach of the employment contract.4 The breach of the contract of employment is also a component of the tort of inducing breach of contract which union organisers of industrial action may commit resulting in the vicarious liability of the union itself.