Going on strike—be informed of the risks
You will lose pay for going on strike
If you take unprotected or unlawful industrial action you cannot be paid. Your employer must deduct at least four hours’ pay. Asking your employer to pay you for a period when you were on strike is unlawful. You can be fined for asking to be paid, and your employer can be fined for making the payment.
You can be fined for taking unlawful industrial action
The maximum penalty for taking unlawful industrial action is $42,000 for an individual. A court may also order you to pay compensation for damages suffered by others as a result of the action.
Legal strike action can only occur in limited circumstances
You may only lawfully take industrial action in the limited circumstances in which that action is protected action.
However, action will not be industrial action if it is taken because:
- You have a reasonable concern about an imminent risk to your health and safety and there is no alternative safe work available.
- Your employer has authorised or agreed to the action in advance and in writing.
You should ask the question, is this strike lawful? Simply voting to take strike action doesn’t make it legal.
‘Protected industrial action’ is not always protected
If you are taking ‘protected industrial action’, you must ensure that only protected persons are involved in the industrial action. Protected persons are generally limited to those unions (and their officials), union members and employee representatives who are involved in the bargaining process.
A person who is not employed by your employer and is not a representative of a union involved in the bargaining process will not be a protected person.
If you engage in ‘protected industrial action’ and are joined by anyone who is not a protected person, or one of the organisers of the industrial action is not a protected person, it loses its ‘protected’ character. This means that it could constitute unlawful industrial action and expose you to fines of up to $42,000 and liability to pay damages.
Going on strike is your decision
Your industrial instrument, such as an enterprise agreement or award, contains procedures for resolving disputes. These procedures must be followed to resolve any disagreements or disputes in the workplace.
It’s your choice whether you take industrial action or not. You are responsible for your decision, and will personally face any consequences for taking unlawful industrial action.
A person cannot force you to take industrial action if you do not want to. It is unlawful for a person to threaten to take adverse action against you if you refuse to take part in a strike, or to take adverse action against you as a result of you not taking part in a strike.
Ask questions, get advice
Talk to your employer, site manager, us at the ABCC and your union. Make sure you get all the information you need before taking industrial action.
Some questions you should ask are:
- Why is the strike being proposed?
- Is there an imminent risk to health and safety if work continues?
- Have you spoken to your employer about the issue?
- Is a new enterprise agreement currently being negotiated?
- Are people unconnected to the bargaining process getting involved in the strike action?
Need more information?
Contact us directly for more information or advice about your individual circumstances:
- Hotline: 1800 003 338
- Email: enquiry [at] abcc.gov.au
- Website: www.abcc.gov.au