ABSTRACT

When collective bargaining and consultation have failed or simply do not take place, employees have many ways of pushing for reform in their favour or of demonstrating their opposition to employers. They may, for example, have recourse to go-slows, work-to-rules, absenteeism, turnover and sabotage. These, however, are mainly individual responses to dissatisfaction. Collective action can include written and verbal protest delivered through representatives. The ultimate weapon of employees, however, and the most visible and measurable form of conflict revealing a high level of dissatisfaction, is strikes. The collective withdrawal of labour also requires a high level of organisation and a strong sense of collective solidarity, and strikes can therefore tell us much about the state of unions, the working classes, societal power relations and industrial relations in general. For these reasons they will form the focus of this chapter.