Should Workers Be Allowed to Strike?

It is difficult to see how anyone could deny that all workers
should have the rights to strike. This is because striking gives
workers freedom of speech. This is justifiable, because Britain is a
democratic nation.

My first reason supporting the motion that workers should be
allowed to strike is in order to bring to the fore poor safety
conditions. For instance, in the nuclear power industry, any
breaches of safety can have tragic consequences. If the employees
are exposed to nuclear material, this could lead to serious illnesses
such as cancer, leukemia and radiation sickness. Radioactive
material could also affect residents of the surrounding area, as in
the case of the Chernobyl disaster. In the light of poor safety
conditions, workers striking can be justified by the fact that the
government and public would be informed.

Similarly, another justification for employees striking is that
production and confidence would perhaps increase after industrial
action. This could be because, when workers strike for higher pay
or better conditions and their employers meet their demands, the
employees return to their place of work with higher morale than
before the walk-out. As a consequence, the higher productivity
would be beneficial to the owners.

Likewise, industrial action gives the worker a line of protest
against unfair hours or miserly wages. Theoretically, if taking
industrial action was outlawed, the management could impose any
terms and contract changes that they wished on their personnel.
On the contrary, in reality the only effective option that skilled
laborers have when their firm underpay them is down tools and
walk out. This would ensure that the proprietors would have to
negotiate with the unions, as skilled workers are difficult to locate.

Furthermore, if the workers belonging to one trade union
walk out, the situation may be intensified by the fact that one trade
union's leaders can call on an allied union's members to down
tools. To this end, there are many ties - official and unspoken -
between the trade unions. For instance, in 1926 when the Miner's
Federation received official notice of wage cuts for miners, the
TUC (Trade Unions Congress) called on railway laborers, bus
drivers and many others to strike in support of the miners. On the
fourth of May, two million laborers walked out to strengthen the
cause of the pit workers.

Twelve days later, the strike was called off, and the miners
kept going unswerving until Christmas. The strike itself was a
failure, but for those twelve days in May, it showed how powerful
the humble worker was; the whole country ground to a halt.

On the contrary, some people would argue that industrial
action causes disruption to the general public because of the
amenities that are interrupted, for instance bus and train services.
Although this is true, the disorganization would turn the media
spotlight on the employers, forcing them to give in to public
pressure and accede to their employee's demands.

As has been noted, strikes are sometimes necessary for the
public and worker's safety. It is also often their only way of
democratic protest against poor conditions and pay. It would be
difficult to deny that walking out is morally incorrect. However,
despite the ethics of the debate, industrial action is here to stay.