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strikea stoppage of work by a group of workers as part of an INDUSTRIAL DISPUTE with the aim of bringing pressure to bear on the employer. In the UK most strikes arise out of disputes over pay and conditions of employment. In the UK strike activity is normally measured in three ways: the number of stoppages, the number of workers involved, and the number of working days lost per 1000 employees. Of these the best indicator of ‘strike proneness’ (i.e. how likely workers are to take industrial action) is the number of working days lost per 1000 employees, because it captures more of the intensity and extent of stoppages than the other indices.
Strikes are generally both a protest and an attempt to secure concessions from employers. Their effectiveness is premised on the costs of a loss of output and the damage of relationships with suppliers, customers and employees that a stoppage of work can result in. However, strikes are costly to employees too since they usually suffer a loss of earnings for the duration of the stoppage. Employees therefore often take alternative forms of INDUSTRIAL ACTION, such as overtime bans, which are considerably cheaper. The conduct of strikes by unions is regulated by LABOUR LAW in the UK. A postal ballot of employees must be held, and employers must be given advance notice of the strike, for the strike to be lawful (and hence TRADE UNION IMMUNITIES to be retained). SECONDARY ACTION is unlawful.