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Strike action (or simply strike) is a deliberate refusal to work on the part of multiple employees. This is a tactic often employed by labor unions during collective bargaining with an employer. A strike may consist of workers refusing to attend work or picketing outside the workplace so as to prevent or dissuade other people from working in their place or conducting business with their employer. Or, a strike may consist of workers attending or occupying the workplace, but refusing to do their jobs or leave. This is known as a sit-down 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 are known as general strikes.
People in certain professions, particularly those regarded as critical to society, are sometimes prohibited by law from striking. Police, firefighters, and air traffic controllers are among the groups sometimes affected. Occasionally, people in these professions will try to circumvent strike restrictions, such as by falsely claiming inability to work due to illness - this is sometimes called a "sickout". The term "blue flu" has sometimes been used to describe this action when taken by police officers.
Strikes first became important during the industrial revolution, when mass labour became important in factories and mines. In most countries they were quickly made illegal as factory owners had far more political power than the workers. Most western countries legalized striking partially in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century.
In Communist regimes such as the former USSR, striking was illegal and viewed as counter-revolutionary. Since the government in such systems was meant to represent the working class it was claimed that unions and strikes were not necessary.
Most other totalitarian systems also ban strikes.
Types of strikes
If a strike takes place against the will of the leadership of the union, or without a union, it's known as a wildcat strike. In many countries, wildcat strikes do not enjoy the same legal protections as standard union strikes, and may result in penalties for the union whose members participate.
A sit-down strike is a strike in which workers show up to work, but refuse to work.
A general strike is a strike affecting all areas of a labour force across many industries.
A sympathy strike (or secondary strike) is a strike initiated by workers in one industry and supported by workers in a separate but related industry.
A jurisdictional strike Jurisdictional strike is a concept in United States labor law that refers to a concerted refusal to work undertaken by a union to assert its membersâ€™ right to particular job assignments and to protest the assignment of disputed work to members of another union or to unorganized workers.
Another tactic short of a full strike is a work-to-rule, 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 any overtime.
People hired to replace striking workers are known as scabs, or scab labor, or strike-breakers. Unionists use the epithet "scab" to refer to workers who are willing to accept terms that union workers have rejected. The word comes from the idea that the workers are covering a wound.
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