• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Is the strike no longer necessary?

Extracts from this document...


Is the strike no longer necessary? 'A strike has been defined as a temporary stoppage of work by a group of employees in order to express a grievance or enforce a demand.' (Hyman, 1984) Being the most overt and demonstrative form of industrial action, the strike is arguably the most misunderstood feature of industrial relations because of the critical way in which it is depicted in the media. Strikes, discouraged by UK legislation, arise for many reasons, some of which include disputes about pay, conditions of work, union recognition, demarcation disputes, health and safety, discipline and job security. In recent years there has been a general tendency for strikes to be defensive; they seek to defend existing wages, which is evident in the ongoing fire-fighters strike, and also existing working conditions, which is evident in the recent train strikes. The biggest single cause of strikes has traditionally been disputes over wages; the famous Pilkington strike of 1970 provides an excellent example of this. However, many strikes are also held because of fears about job certainties. This was reflected in the long and bitter Miners Strike in 1984, where workers were to lose jobs in the coal industry. Strikes tend to be viewed by union members as a last resort; disputes need not lead to a strike if there are alternative methods of resolving differences. They have a symbolic significance because they are the ultimate form of power in which damage can be inflicted in order to extract concessions or to defend existing positions. However, strikes have declined greatly since the 1980s. ...read more.


With the added pressure during the economic downturn of the early 1990s, where it was difficult for individuals to push for higher wages, and then the low inflation environment of the UK since then (low levels of inflation reduce employee expectations of higher pay increases whilst high levels of inflation tend to encourage strikes as concern with maintaining real income grow), unions have found it more productive to try and work with employers rather than fight them. This suggests that strikes are no longer necessary because there is an increased understanding between employers, subordinates and unions today. Although recent developments suggest that strikes are no longer necessary, we only have to look at current employment relation issues in the British economy to see that conflicts of interests still exist and that strikes are still occurring. Modern examples include strike action being taken by public sector workers including fire-fighters, teachers, university academics, and tube and rail workers. It is apparent that these individuals feel that they need to strike in order to demonstrate their determination on an issue or because negotiations have developed in such a way that a strike is seen as unavoidable. Current economic pressures in Britain propose suitable reasons as to why strike activity is still necessary. The 'London Weighting' dispute argues that the cost of living in London is too expensive, in relation to elsewhere in the UK, thus public sector workers want to be compensated for the higher cost of living. One aspect of the Association of University Teachers (AUT) case is that since 1992, the cost of living in London has risen substantially. ...read more.


Although strikes have intangible economic costs, they are occasionally necessary as we have discovered in the arguments presented above. In my judgement, strikes are only justified to an extent. Individuals should only resort to strike action if alternative methods of action have proved to be useless or if their complaints are not being taken seriously. However, I believe that many strikes today are unnecessary, particularly those that are economically motivated, because strikers cannot expect their full demands to be achieved, without some other sacrifice having to be made. For example, increases in salaries may mean a certain amount of job shedding is required and this can have potentially dire consequences for the rest of the economy. The fire-fighters case is a good illustration; whilst the fire-fighters argument is well presented, a 40% increase is too much to expect in a short time span. (This does not however mean that they are not entitled to an increase in pay) Nevertheless, if they are given the increase they want, other professions will soon be demanding the same, which could potentially cripple the economy. Therefore in the majority of cases it is not financially feasible to meet strikers' demands, as is evident in the fire-fighters case, thus suggesting that strikes are unnecessary. All things considered, conflicts of interests will always exist. It is unlikely that employers and employees will ever agree on all matters because both sets of individuals possess different interests. For example, employers' interests may include profit maximisation whilst employees' interests may include increased pay. Until organisations are able to balance these contrasting objectives, conflicting interests will continue to exist and individuals will continue to take severe forms of industrial action, through strikes if necessary, in order to convey their true feelings of contempt. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Trade Unions section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Trade Unions essays

  1. Identify and explain the major issues relative to the unionization process and what organizations ...

    Each employee must sign the showing of interest and each employee's signature must be dated. When a petition is filed, the NLRB will determine whether the contract bar rule precludes holding an election. If it doesn't the NLRB must then determine an appropriate bargaining unit.

  2. Impact of Industrialisation - The purpose of this essay is to describe and discuss ...

    All those reasons made the union membership fall from 1979 onwards. They improved their services and more relevant to today's world. They offer member loans mortgages and insurance, some produced credit and discount shopping cards. There are four types of union.

  1. Select any ONE U.K.trade union. Explore their current levels of membership, and services for ...

    The new weakened power only gave the unions some recognition rights and minimum wage, but has made it very clear that the unions will not return to the legal immunities they had before the Thatcherism period. Figure 1: Trade union density for employees in UK5 In autumn 2003, 7.4 million UK workers belonged to a trade union.

  2. Employee Relations - Fire Brigade Strikes of 2002.

    However, this disagreement goes back even further than 2001. To understand the stalemate it is necessary to examine the unique history of the fire service. The public sector, ever changing since 1979, have been described as inefficient and insufficiently responsive to the changing needs of society.

  1. Employee Relations and Trade Union Recognition Within The Catering Sector.

    Union involvement would undermine manager's authority and could put an end to the practice of ensuring that all head office policies are adhered to. Managers may find that their latitude to incorporate head office policies were limited. Managers also believe that the sudden interest by trade unions in the hotel and catering sector is a purely cynical one.

  2. Employment relationship

    These include their sense of dignity and worth, the need for work that is fulfilling, and opportunities to develop and grow. The organization demonstrates acceptance through salary increase, positive appraisals, new job assignments, and promotions. However, violation of these contracts will have dire consequences.

  1. 'The impact of legislation introduced between 1980 and 1993 is the principal reason for ...

    successfully defeated when employers working in conjunction with the Government, refused to give into worker demands. Defeats of the most organised workers demoralised union members further. The strike trends in the period 1950 to 1996 are tabulated below (Table 1 calculated by Kessler & Bayliss).

  2. Why did the General Strike of 1926 take place?

    In the 1900s Britain's wealth was based upon trade and export of industrial goods- it had previously been a very strong country economically; however by 1914 it no longer was as other countries had begun to develop their industries. This affected the mining industry badly, since it had formerly been one of Britain's leading industries.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work