A strike is a collective withdrawal of labour by employees. Under such action, employees refuse to perform all work, not just selected duties. Strikes are usually, but not always, organised by a union. The purpose of a strike is to pressure an employer (or other third party) into complying with particular demands or refraining from doing something.
Under the federal Fair Work Act 2009 strike action may be 'protected action' if undertaken during a bargaining period for an enterprise agreement and other formal procedures have been complied with. Protected action may also cover other types of industrial action as well as strikes. 'Protected action' means that industrial tribunals will not intervene to resolve the dispute as long as it is conducted within the rules of legitimate protected action.
Six conditions for protected industrial action
Six important conditions must be satisfied in order for industrial action to be protected under the Fair Work Act.
1. Industrial action will not be protected if taken before the nominal expiry of an enterprise agreement.
2. The action must be about:
matters pertaining to the employer’s relationship with its employees or the employees’ organisation (eg. a union) payroll deductions or
How the agreement will operate.
If the action is not about any of these matters, it cannot be protected industrial action.
3. The action must be organised by the employees or their bargaining representative (e.g. the union).
4. Before action is taken, the parties must have genuinely tried to reach agreement.
5. A majority of eligible employees must vote in support of the action through a secret ballot.
6. The employer must receive at least three days’ written notice of the industrial action before it is taken.
The Fair Work Act specifies that striking employees should not be paid for the period of the strike. Continuity of employment however is not affected.
The issue of whether employees have 'the right to strike' is one of the most contentious issues in industrial relations.
Protected action not available
Protected industrial action is not available in relation to: a proposed Greenfields agreement
a proposed multi-enterprise agreement
a dispute about the membership demarcation of different unions at the worksite pattern bargaining, or
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Work bans, as the name suggests, involve employees refusing to do certain types of work or refusing to work with particular management, employees or other third parties. For example, a work ban may include employees refusing to train new employees who have been brought into the company to do the same job but on different conditions.
Bans on overtime are also included in this category of industrial action.
This type of action is attractive for collectively organised employees as they are theoretically still at work and getting paid, however the action can still have an adverse impact on the employer's business.
Employers may seek orders from industrial tribunals to have work bans lifted. Back to top
A 'go slow ' is where employees delay production or work flow to put pressure on the employer. The employees deliberately work slower than they would under normal conditions. A 'go slow' is often difficult for an employer to detect and equally as difficult for an employer to counter as theoretically, employees are still doing their job, even if at a slower rate than usual. Back to top
Work to rule
A work to rule campaign involves employees taking their work responsibilities very literally. For example, under a work to rule campaign, an employee who regularly works additional time for no additional benefit would only work the official set hours of the organisation. Another example may be a machinist in a factory who under normal circumstances would help out on other machines however, when working to rule, would only operate the machine he or...
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