International Journal of Comparative Labour Law and Industrial Relations

Volume 29 (2013)

Volume 29 (2013) / Issue 2

William Brown, 'The Ending of Unauthorized Strikes in the West: Some Policy Implications for China' (2013) 29 International Journal of Comparative Labour Law and Industrial Relations, Issue 2, pp. 185–198

Wildcat Strikes; Unofficial Strikes; Industrial Relations Reform; Conflict Resolution


Unauthorized strikes were a common feature of the private sectors of many Western economies in the third quarter of the twentieth century. They largely disappeared during the fourth quarter. At a time when such strikes are an increasing issue in China, the article considers why they ceased to be such in the West, using evidence from Britain. It discusses the nature of unauthorized or 'wildcat' strikes and argues that several factors caused them to fade away. Pressures of increased product market competition forced management to gain closer control over the conduct of work and payment systems. Trade unions restructured themselves to cope better with workplace bargaining, before declining in influence. Government increased the procedural constraints on workplace strikes and created an independent third-party intervention service. The article concludes with policy implications.

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ISSN: 0952-617X
ID: IJCL2013013