Negative effects of workers going on strike

Labor day protests.

Strikes, walkouts, stoppages, call them what you may; the truth is they are plentiful, costly, inconveniencing and often accompanied by violence.

Yet they remain the most powerful weapon the labor force has against management.

They reportedly grew out of the Industrial Revolution, when workers felt the need to organize into unions in order to resist unwelcome domination by employers.

From an isolated demonstration in some small mill or factory they have grown with industry to become the highly organized affair they are today that can paralyze not only factories but complete industries, yes, entire nations.

What are some of the negative effects of workers going on strike?

Negative effects of strikes on labor relations

Police controlling a demonstration.

While some strikes come as a protest against some deeply resented action on the part of management, the most common single strike cause is still the demand for more money.

This consuming desire for more money is contagious.

When workers in one industry get a pay boost, others are not satisfied until they do too.

In fact, a union is likely to lose the support of its members to another union if it does not achieve the benefits its members want.

One noteworthy aspect of the labor scene today is the disrespect union members often display toward their union leaders.

Under normal circumstances a strike is called after negotiations between union and management have failed, using the powerful strike weapon as only last resort.

But so often the workers hastily march off on their jobs before the unions can sanction it.

Some, however, feel that unions have contributed toward this irresponsibility on the part of their members and are, therefore, reaping what they have sowed.

On occasions they have urged members to ignore court injunctions making strike action illegal.

In fact, some union leaders are of the belief that violence is the only method of winning justice for the workingman.

This new militancy on the part of workers is a reflection of the general trend toward lack of respect for authority of any kind.

So, today, instead of having a conflict with just his employer, the employee is often found waging war against his union.

Negative effects on families and nations

Financial crisis

Strikes have as their aim the inflicting of financial loss upon the employers so that they will be forced to come to terms, but the fact is that the employees and their families also suffer .

An objective appraisal reveals that the workers, and the unions that represent them, often work at cross-purposes with themselves. 

They may win their demand for higher wages but higher wages result in higher manufacturing costs and, subsequently, higher retail prices. 

Hence, the market may be partially lost to competitors.

With less demand for his product the manufacturer must reduce production and may further seek to cut labor costs through automation.

As a consequence, the strike may actually cost the worker his job.

Then, too, when strikes carry on for weeks and months the loss in wages may be so great that it may take years before the worker recovers financially.

Yes, strikes are costly, not only to employers, but also to employees and their families.

Such strikes are especially hard on those families that buy on credit.

Bills, hard enough to keep up with at the best of times, become a real dread for such ones.

At such times, too, relationships among family members are severely tested, for existing problems become exaggerated and the tensions and uncertainties of the work situation are reflected in the home.

Though some strikes may directly involve only a small percentage of the labor force, yet they invariably affect the lives of many others.

Not only are vacationers stranded, businessmen forced to cancel trips, freight shipments halted and mail delayed, but thousands besides those on strike are forced into idleness.

The method most often employed by union and management in settling disputes, the system of give-and-take called “collective bargaining," does not always obtain the desired results.

Existing strike laws, which may postpone strikes but which cannot stop them, are seen by government officials as being inadequate.

So there is more and more talk of compulsory arbitration in labor disputes that affect public interest.

This may call for the establishment of fact-finding boards, but such will prove ineffectual if one side in a dispute chooses to disregard recommendations for settlement terms.

Some feel that compulsory arbitration would simply produce illegal strikes instead of legal ones. Therefore, the fact remains: A strike is not necessarily ended or averted when it is declared illegal."

Usually governments are leery of favoring large pay increases because, if granted to one industry, others would not be satisfied until they got a corresponding raise.

The cost of living would spiral, with inflation the result.

Indeed, governments plagued with strike action in major industries occupy an unenviable position.