Further action - Strikes

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Sometimes, negotiations don't go as planned and the parties find themselves at loggerheads. This may be because the employer is not offering enough in terms of a wage increase or improvements to conditions, or because the union negotiators are having trouble getting progress on a key improvement to the collective agreement.

A strike happens when a group of workers refuse to do their normal work for their employer. This can mean anything from refusing to work any extra hours (an overtime ban) through to a complete refusal to work. The strike is used to try and budge their employer to shift their position in the negotiations.

Under the ERA 2000, workers can legally strike when their union is negotiating a collective agreement or when there is a serious health and safety issue. Under the Act, a legal strike occurs only when the current collective agreement (if there is one) has expired. Unions treat striking very seriously, and only see it as a last resort action after all else has failed. The decision to strike is made by the workers covered by the collective agreement, usually by secret ballot (this enables workers to make a free choice). A worker may find himself or herself in what is defined by the ERA 2000 as an 'essential industry'. If you work in an essential service and the strike is about a collective agreement, your union will have to tell your employer (give notice) that you will be going on strike.

Essential Services

  • Gas manufacturing and supply
  • Electricity production and supply
  • Sewage disposal
  • Activities related to ship arrivals, loading, unloading and departures
  • Passenger and goods air services
  • Licensed hospitals
  • Manufacturing and supply of surgical and dialysis solutions
  • Production and supply of milk and dairy products
  • Passenger bus and rail services
  • Petroleum production and supply
  • Water supply
  • Professional fire fighting
  • Passenger and goods ferry services between the main islands
  • Ambulance services prisons and residential institutions
  • Manufacturing and supply of medicines
  • Activities related to freezing works and abattoirs