industrial action


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industrial action

measures taken by one or more workers either to bring pressure to bear on employers during the course of an INDUSTRIAL DISPUTE or as a response to their conditions of work and employment. Industrial action can therefore be an element of a strategy to win concessions from employers, or an expression of discontent and CONFLICT (or both). Generally the most dramatic form of industrial action is where employees withdraw their labour by going on STRIKE. There are other methods, however, many of which are less costly to employees since they do not usually result in complete loss of wages for the duration of the action. These include:
  1. the overtime ban, where employees refuse to work any time in excess of the hours stipulated in their CONTRACT OF EMPLOYMENT;
  2. the go-slow, where employees work at a slower rate than usual;
  3. the work-to-rule, where employees observe strictly the terms of their job description and their contract of employment, thereby requiring a greater level of direct supervision by management than is usual and restricting FLEXIBILITY.

The success of these forms of action is based on the fact that the work process usually requires a degree of cooperation and flexibility from the workforce in excess of that which can be formally embodied in the contract. Withdrawal of this cooperation can thus be an effective sanction. These forms of action are especially useful to those occupational groups who are prohibited from withdrawing their labour or who find STRIKE action morally repugnant.

A rarer form of industrial action is the work-in or occupation (‘sit-in’) where workers take over the running of the workplace, usually in response to a threat of closure.

Workers may also take individual action either as an expression of discontent or as an element of a personal strategy to improve their working life. ABSENTEEISM, where workers stay away from work, and quitting altogether (see LABOUR TURNOVER) are good examples of this. Sabotage (i.e. deliberate interference with equipment and the work process) is often seen as an individual outburst of dissatisfaction but it can also be a collective action carefully designed to regulate the pace of work.

Although attention generally focuses on action taken by workers, employers also take industrial action on occasions. For instance they may lock-out the workforce (i.e. prevent their employees from entering the workplace) in an attempt to secure concessions or to counter employee action during a dispute. A more indirect form of action is where they deliberately foster a STRIKE or other form of employee action, possibly as a way of reducing labour costs when the order book is low. See ALIENATION, JOB SATISFACTION, SECONDARY ACTION.

industrial action

measures taken by a group of employees either to bring pressure to bear on employers during the course of an INDUSTRIAL DISPUTE or as a response to their conditions of work and employment. Such actions include STRIKES, overtime bans, ‘go-slows’ and ‘work-to-rules’. See TRADE UNION, EMPLOYMENT ACTS 1980,1982,1988, 1990, INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS.
References in periodicals archive ?
Members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) working in catering for Aramark and cleaning for ISS at the Business Department (BEIS) in London have been taking industrial action since July.
But currently there are no strike dates confirmed and the union is also required to give Ryanair at least one week's notice for any industrial action.
Last week we offered to meet personally with union leaders to resolve the dispute on the condition that all forms and threats of industrial action cease.
On Thursday they said: "There have been recent public statements concerning the possibility of Unison members taking all-out industrial action in the service at the beginning of October 2018.
The NMA in the state had on January 7, 2018 embarked on the industrial action over failure of the state government to pay its members some of their outstanding salaries, promotion of its members, failure of government to implement the revised CONMESS and retirement of senior doctors yet to attain the statutory age or year of retirement.
The dispute saw cabin crew operating on long and short haul flights out of Heathrow take 85 days of industrial action earlier in the year.
A statement said: "Royal Mail requested CWU withdraw its notification of industrial action and commit to following the dispute resolution procedures.
The Post understands the council did not pull its punches in the letter, which has been sent to all unions, even though only Unite members voted for industrial action.
The ballot result showed 80% in favour of strike action, and around the same percentage in favour of taking industrial action short of a strike.
Employees of Northern Rail have voted for industrial action over a number of points of dispute between their union and the company.
Union leaders said 85% of 2,500 members among police staff backed the ballot over industrial action. It is believed across Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland Police there are around 4,500 civilian staff working, including call handlers, admin staff, community support officers, crime scene investigators and finance staff.

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