Labor strikes arise as a result of failure by the government or employers to amicably address industrial disputes. Private sector employees have a right to participate in a strike which is legally constituted. Public servants are permitted to strike in some states. Before a strike takes place, labor unions engage employers in negotiations to try and avert crises. Labor strikes occur once the negotiations fail. Labor strikes have some negative and positive effects on the community within which the organizations operate.
Job Cuts and Losses
In situations where an employee strike has not been properly sanctioned, employers may decide to take stern action against all who participate in labor strikes. Some employees may be let off with a warning and in extreme cases, staff may be laid off. This leaves families without a source of income. Desperation eventually sets in, with some people becoming homeless due to failure to pay rent while others turn to crime.
Destruction of Property
Labor strikes are climaxed by peaceful demonstrations where aggrieved employees carry placards and walk in the streets to seek attention to their grievances. However, such demonstrations sometimes turn violent upon confrontation with the police or when hooligans take advantage of the strikes to loot and destroy property.
Better Working Conditions
As a result of a strike, employers are made more aware of their employees' working conditions and employee rights. Issues that employees have bottled up are brought to the open. In view of this, an agreement is arrived at between the management and union leaders. Better terms are offered including increased wages. This results in better working and living conditions for the entire community.
Disruption of Crucial Services
Transportation and health services are some of the essential services in any community. Demonstrations by striking employees lead to blocked traffic routes or slow traffic movement. A labor strike by rail employees paralyzes transport leading to people missing work or children failing to attend school. Such absenteeism is costly to the economy. A strike by health workers may lead to the death of patients at a major hospital.
Labor strikes sensitize corporate firms on the need to improve infrastructure in the areas they operate from. Industrial firms may be compelled to control harmful emissions or repair damaged roads in their areas they operate. Labor strikes can also lead to building of more schools and health facilities that will benefit the community.
Alphonse Lameck is a tutorial fellow based in Kenya, where he specializes in the field of management. He holds a Master of Arts in practicing management from McGill University, as well as a bachelor's degree in international business administration from United States International University.