What Is an Economic Strike?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

An economic strike is an event in which all efforts at producing goods and services through labor are temporarily shut down, usually due to a walkout on the part of the employees who normally manage the tasks necessary to keep the production process going. There are a number of reasons why this type of strike may occur, with the perception of inadequacy in the compensation offered to those employees being one of the more common. An economic strike may be voluntarily called by workers associated with a particular employer and organized on a local level, or it may involve a call to strike by a labor union and have repercussions for a number of companies employing the union members.

Economic strikes can occur for many reasons.
Economic strikes can occur for many reasons.

With an economic strike, the core issue often has to do with the level of compensation that is received by workers in exchange for their efforts in the workplace. That compensation may focus on actual wages or salaries, but can also include concerns about other forms of compensation currently extended to employees. For example, workers may invoke an economic strike in protest of a lack of sick pay or group health insurance benefits, choosing to not work until the employer agrees to open dialogue and work toward reaching some sort of compromise with the employees.

Employee compensation is typically the core of an economic strike.
Employee compensation is typically the core of an economic strike.

Most unions have specific regulations that provide a basis for determining if a particular situation calls for an economic strike. The idea is to ensure that strikes are not invoked without making reasonable effort in advance to work with employers to resolve employee concerns. In addition, certain types of strike activity are discouraged or even illegal in different nations, making it necessary to conduct the economic strike in compliance with the laws of the land. For example, strategies such as wildcat strikes, work slowdowns, or sit-ins may be expressly forbidden by union rules because they are also considered illegal under current employment laws and regulations.

Under the best of circumstances, the threat of a responsibly organized economic strike is often sufficient for employees and employers to dialogue and seek to avoid the total cessation of work. In many cases, working together and reaching a compromise that both sides can live with is to the benefit of everyone concerned. When the negotiations are successful and the economic strike is avoided, employees don’t have to struggle financially due to the loss of income from steady work. At the same time, employers are able to sidestep the risk of losing business due to delays in filling customer orders.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


Work slowdowns are a brilliant idea. Whoever thought of this type of economic strike was very intelligent. The workers don't stop work completely, but they work so slowly that barely any work gets done. It works very well in factories that have production lines. But it requires organization because the strike will only be effective if everyone takes part and works together.


@burcinc-- I don't see how that could happen if the workers have a union to protect their interests. They can't just be fired like that.

If workers have a union, then the union will usually defend their rights and also make the decision that the workers should go on strike until their requests and needs are met. This is why worker's unions were established in the first place, so that worker's rights could be protected. Even if employers were to fire them, the union can take the employer to court for these actions and win.


In some countries, workers are actually afraid to strike and if they do, they back off quickly because the employer threatens them back. They are usually threatened that they will lose their jobs if they continue with the strike. This is often enough to scare workers who are in dire need of the job and wages to survive with their families. So they may be forced to accept unfair working conditions for longer to avoid getting fired.

Post your comments
Forgot password?