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Unofficial Strike


An unofficial strike is a work stoppage by employees that hasn’t been endorsed or organized by their recognized labor union. It is often considered as illegal because it breaches the collective bargaining agreement between the union and the employer. It generally lacks the legal protections typically granted to official strikes, exposing participants to greater risks of disciplinary action or termination.


The phonetics of the keyword “Unofficial Strike” is:ʌnəˈfɪʃəl straɪk

Key Takeaways

1. Definition:

An Unofficial Strike is a work stoppage by employees that is not supported or sanctioned by their trade union. This typically happens when the workers have grievances that are not addressed by management or their union. They are also commonly known as “wildcat strikes.”

2. Legal Status:

Depending upon the jurisdiction, the legality of unofficial strikes varies significantly. In some countries, such strikes are illegal and may lead to employment termination or other sanctions. In other jurisdictions, while not encouraged, they may fall within the workers’ legal rights.

3. Impact:

While unofficial strikes can be an effective means of expressing dissatisfaction or exerting pressure on employers, they can also be risky. They may exacerbate tensions between management and workers, potentially damage relationships with the union, and can have financial implications for both individuals and the wider company.


The term “Unofficial Strike” in business and finance is important because it refers to a work stoppage by employees that hasn’t been sanctioned by their trade union. This action can disrupt productivity and result in financial losses for businesses. Unofficial strikes are not protected by law, meaning employees can face legal consequences or have their employment terminated. These strikes can potentially damage the reputation of a business, impacting future financial prospects and investment opportunities. Additionally, it presents significant challenges from a management perspective, necessitating contingency planning and intricate strategies to mitigate losses and negotiate resolutions. Hence, the concept of an unofficial strike plays a critical role in labor relations and business management.


An unofficial strike is a work stoppage by employees that has not been endorsed by the official trade union or labor organization that they belong to. This type of strike is usually a spontaneous action by the workers orchestrated due to immediate grievances such as unexpected changes in working conditions, unfair labor practices, or pay issues. The main purpose of such strikes is to voice opposition against the management and seek redress for their grievances. Interestingly, unofficial strikes are often used as a negotiation tool. They serve as an instrument for employees to express their discontentment and demand immediate attention from management. These strikes can create significant business disruptions, making it more likely for management to enter into negotiation discussions and potentially remedy the situation. Unofficial strikes, while not officially sanctioned by the trade union, nevertheless exert pressure on management to resolve acute issues in a timely manner.


1. **British Airways Cabin Crew Strike (2010)** – The cabin crew of British Airways held a series of unofficial strikes over job cuts and changes to staff contracts. Despite being unofficial, the strikes caused significant disruption, leading to hundreds of flights being cancelled and costing the airline around £150 million.2. **Firefighters Unofficial Strike in the UK (2006)** – Firefighters in Merseyside, U.K., conducted an unofficial strike due to dispute over new shift patterns. These changes were considered detrimental to their work-life balance. Without official backing of the union’s national leadership, firefighters staged walk-outs and engaged in slower response times. 3. **South Africa’s Marikana Miner’s Strike (2012)** – At the Marikana Platinum Mine in South Africa, miners initiated an unofficial strike for better wages. The strike turned violent, resulting in a number of deaths. The strike was deemed unofficial as it was not endorsed by the National Union of Mineworkers but was instead led by a rival organization.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is an unofficial strike?

An unofficial strike is a work stoppage by union members that is not sanctioned or approved by the union and is not in compliance with the legal requirements for striking.

How does an unofficial strike differ from an official strike?

An official strike is one that is endorsed by the union and complies with all legal requirements for striking, while an unofficial strike is not endorsed by the union and typically does not adhere to legal guidelines.

What could be the reasons for an unofficial strike?

Unofficial strikes can be motivated by a variety of reasons, including dissatisfaction with pay, working conditions, or management practices. However, they are typically spontaneous and not part of a coordinated campaign or dispute.

What are the potential consequences of participating in an unofficial strike?

Employees participating in an unofficial strike may face disciplinary action up to and including dismissal, as these strikes are often in breach of their employment contract. Moreover, because these strikes are not endorsed by the union, participants usually do not receive strike pay or official union support.

Can an unofficial strike become an official strike?

Yes, an unofficial strike can potentially become an official strike if the union decides to endorse the strike and it meets all necessary legal requirements.

What is the impact of an unofficial strike on a business?

Unofficial strikes can significantly disrupt business operations, potentially causing financial loss and damage to a company’s reputation. They can also lead to legal complications or disruptions in the labor-management relationship.

How can businesses prevent unofficial strikes?

Businesses can work to prevent unofficial strikes by fostering a positive work environment, addressing employee grievances promptly, encouraging open communication, and ensuring fair treatment of all workers. Offering competitive salaries and benefits can also discourage workers from engaging in such actions.

How are unofficial strikes viewed in the finance sector?

Unofficial strikes are generally viewed negatively in the finance sector, as they disrupt business operations and can harm a company’s financial stability. They might also lead to legal complications and damage company’s relations with its workforce.

Related Finance Terms

  • Wildcat Strike: This is a sudden work stoppage by employees without the approval or organization of their union representatives.
  • Industrial Action: A broad term encompassing any actions taken by unions or employees to disrupt normal work in pursuit of their demands.
  • Labor Dispute: A disagreement between the management/ employer and workmen/ employees over conditions of employment, wages, working hours, etc.
  • Scab Worker: This refers to individuals who cross picket lines to work and replace the roles of those on strike, also known as strikebreakers.
  • Picketing: A form of protest where individuals (typically workers on strike) congregate outside their place of employment in order to draw public attention to their cause.

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