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.
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.
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.