What does strike mean?


The term strike stands for a condition when the workers of an establishment stop working collectively, especially to compel their employers to concede to their demands. There are various kinds of strike like tool-down strike, lie-down strike, pen-down strike and slow-down strike. Strike in broad sense is a collective stoppage of work undertaken in order to bring pressure to bear on those who depend on the sale or use of the products of work.

It is originally used in both the forms of industrial dispute which involved collective stoppage of work or it is the assertion of collective bargaining power that the workers possess. As trade unionism gained force, it made workers aware of their rights and their collective strength when it came to rederssal of grievances. Earlier strike was limited to industrial workers only but now it has became a tool used by government employees and students to express their protest. It goes a long way in preserving the interests of the workers but they cause huge financial loss to the employer, which is also a national loss. A strike is a necessary safety value measure in industrial relation system when properly restored to. It is a legitimate economic weapon in the matter to measure industrial relations. INDUSTRIAL DISPUTES ACT, 1947 defines “STRIKE” in section 2 of clause (q) which means “a cessation of work by a body of persons employed in an industry acting in combination or[1] a concerted refusal or a refusal under a common understanding of any number of persons who are or have been so employed to constitute to make to accept employment”. Thus the definitions given in the Act postulates three main ingredients:-

  • Plurity of workmen;
  • Combination or concerted action;
  • Cessation of work or refusal to do work.

Objects of Strike

The objective of strike is to achieve economic objective or defence of mutual interests. All strikes arising out of such disputes are cases that fell outside the purview of industrial economic strikes. In many countries trade union movements and concerted activities have been used for non-common object.  The objectives of strike must relate with employment and non-employment sector regarding the terms and conditions of labour because of prominent issues.

Right to strike

Right to strike is recognized as a part of peaceful protest. It is available only as long as there is no violence against people and no destruction of property.[2] Strike may be justified or unjustified, legal or illegal. Recently, during the protest for CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENTACT, 2019 people came out for strike (Right to peaceful protest) which is our legal right but some situations turned out to be violative while destroying the property. Such kind of offences is punishable. The Government servants or employees of public sector undertakings have no right to strike.[3]In the year 2003 the strike the government servants is illegal, immoral and unjustifiable.

Under Industrial Dispute Act, 1947 every strike comes with its own duties. According to Indian Constitution, Article 19 is the rainbow of fundamental rights. The unique feature under the article is not absolute and which has reasonable restrictions.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court once held that every liberal interpretation of clause (1) sub-clause (c) of [4]Article 19 cannot lead to the conclusion that trade unions have a guaranteed right to an effective collective bargaining or to strike, either as part of collective bargaining or otherwise. The court further held that a perusal of Article 19(1) (a) shows that there is no fundamental right to strike. Article 19 guarantees the following freedoms-

  • [5]Freedom of speech and expression
  • Freedom to assemble peacefully and without arms.
  • Freedom to form association and unions.
  • Freedom to move freely throughout the territory of India.
  • Freedom to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India.
  • Freedom to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.

Kinds of Strike under Indian Law

The strikes can be classified into the following categories. They are-

  • Where total services are withdrawn such as alternative day strike , Sunday strike etc;
  • Where partial strike are withdrawn such as Bumper strike, Show down strike, Pen-down strike, Tool down strike etc;
  • Where strikes remain on job but adopt irritative methods such as Pearl strikes, Irrigation strikes etc.

Legislative provisions of strike

In India, unlike America  Right to strike is not expressly recognised but the Trade Union Act, 1926 has provided the limitation in right to strike by legalizing certain act of a registered trade union in a trade dispute which is otherwise breach of the common economic law.[6] The scheme of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 implies a right to strike in industries. Since thereafter there was a wide interpretation in the term “industry” by the courts which also includes the hospitals , educational institutions , clubs and government departments.  Under Section 22(q) of Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 defines strike where section 22, 23 and 24 recognize the Right to strike also Section 24 point out the differences between a legal and illegal strike.

Restrictions on strike

Section 22(1) prohibits any employed person in a public utility service from going on strike in a mere breach of contract service without giving a prior notice in the manner prescribed and further complying with the requirements of sub-sections (1), (4) and (6).

These sub-sections does not prohibit any person from strike whereas it is required to fulfil certain conditions before they go out for strike.

Causes of Strike

Following are the reasons why people opt for strike.

  • As a measure of industrial unrest.
  • Bad condition or social disturbance of the workers.
  • Frustration from overload of work.
  • Demand for wages
  • Multiple immediate issues.
  • Weakness in large bargaining power.

Pueposes why strikes are carried on:

Following are the purposes why strikes are carried on among the workers.

  • To compel observations of collective agreements.
  • Strike to discharge of fellow employees.
  • To compel collective bargaining.
  • Higher wages or less hours or other kind of beneficial conditions of employment.
  • To compel payment of their claims.

Though under the Constitution of India, 1950 the right to strike is not a fundamental right but a legal right as it is open to the citizens to go on for strike . In the case of Kameshwar Singh v State of Bihar and B.R Singh v Union of India; The Hon’ble Supreme Court ruled that right to strike is not a fundamental right although it is a means of demonstration in a democratic set up. Every strike is not illegal and the workers in a democratic state have the right to resort to strike whenever they are so pleased in order to express their grievances or to make certain demands.

“The views of the authors are personal








Upasana Borah
I Myself, Upasana Borah, a student of NEF LAW COLLEGE, ASSAM, GUWAHATI currently pursuing BBA LL.B(Hons), 8th semester( 4th year) 2016-2021 batch. As being a law student, I strongly believe that every question arises out of a solution . For a successful outcome it is necessary to view the particular work from all side and analyse it. The depth of its root has its solution. I also believe in gaining knowledge & willing to gain more knowledge to develop my skills where i can perform efficiently.