All Public Workers Should Have the Right to Strike

AllPublic Workers Should Have the Right to Strike

AllPublic Workers Should Have the Right to Strike

Theconcept of collective bargaining has been a popular concept amongemployees in the private sector, but it is now spreading in thepublic sector as well. A study shows that the proportion of publicemployees (including the state, federal, and local governmentworkers) who joined labor unions increased from 12.8 % to 20.6 %between 1960 and 1974 (Katz,et al. (2004). However,the issue of giving public workers an equal right to strike as theircounterparts in the private sector is still controversial. All publicworkers should be given the right to strike because industrial actionis the most appropriate strategy to defend workers’ pension, securethe public service, support the economy, and challenge wealth grabdirectly.

Overthe years, the government has been trying to make the majority paymore to the pension plan and work longer for lesser pay. Thegovernment’s authority held by the government to act as an employerand the regulator of the public employees results in instances thatcall for industrial action in order to attract the governmentattention. For example, a decision to increase employees’contributions by 3.2 % was made by the government without consultingthe public workers (Hiltzik, 2013). In such a case a strike is theonly viable solution for all public employees to air their voices andrescue themselves from squeezed living standards.

Givingthe public workers the right to strike is one way of securingdefending public service. Public workers, similar to workers in theprivate sector, face challenges related to pension, compensation, andworking conditions (Hiltzik, 2013). These challenges affect thequality of work done by members of public service. In addition,persistence of poor working conditions and employee compensation inthe public sector will reduce the capacity of the public agencies toattract experienced employees, which will in turn affect the qualityof public services in the long-run.

Theright to conduct industrial actions will give public workers anopportunity to challenge wealth grab directly. It is now acceptedthat the government’s raid on pension is a plan to make publicworkers pay for the mess (including the global financial crisis)wrecked by the rich, whose incomes are increasing over time (Milne,2011). The acceleration in inequalities is attributed to weak laborunions, which has resulted in a fall in the share of salaries andwages from 68 % in 1975 to 53 % in 2008 compared to corporaterevenues that that have been increasing steadily (Milne, 2011). Thisimplies that allowing the public servants to strike will give them anopportunity to regulate inequality in the labor market.

Givingthe public employees the right to strike will support the nationaleconomy and not damage it as it is widely perceived. Currently, themajor economic challenges include the lack of investment and demand(Milne, 2011). This suggests that pay cuts by the government and anincrease in employee contributions have failed. Therefore, empoweringthe public workers through collective bargaining will give them anopportunity to improve their living standards and their capacity tosupport the national economy.

Inconclusion, there are a lot of factors that create the need to giveall public workers the right to strike. Workplace challenges(including poor compensation and poor working conditions) affect allpublic workers. Therefore giving them the right to strike is anopportunity to address these issues directly. In addition, allowingall public workers to address their workplace issues throughindustrial actions will enhance economic growth by supportinginvestment and increasing demand for goods and services.


Hiltzik,M. (2013, October 24). Why public employees should have the right tostrike. LosAngeles Times.Retrieved July 24, 2014, from

Katz,H. et al. (2004). CollectiveBargaining in the Public Sector: Introduction to CollectiveBargaining and Industrial Relations.New York: McGraw Hill/Irwin.

Milne,S. (2011, November 28). Five reasons public service workers are rightto strike. TheGuardian.Retrieved July 24, 2014, from