Quiescence Continued? Recent Strike Activity in Nine Western European Economies

TitleQuiescence Continued? Recent Strike Activity in Nine Western European Economies
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsGall, Gregor
JournalEconomic and Industrial Democracy
Pagination667 - 691
KeywordsEurope, industrial conflict, strike activity, unions, Western Europe

This article examines whether the downward trajectory in strike activity in nine Western European economies has continued over recent years. In doing so, it considers the nature of the dominant forms of extant strike activity and how these relate to systems of collective bargaining and political exchange. The main findings are three-fold. First, while there has been a general decline in aggregate strike activity, this has often been punctuated by sharp peaks. Second, the dominant nature of the strike activity, especially the sharp peaks, has become increasingly concerned with mounting demonstrative collective mobilizations in the political, rather than industrial, arena. Consequently, much strike activity is increasingly being deployed as a tool of political leverage with governments rather than as a tool of industrial leverage with (private sector) employers. Third, official data on strikes are becoming increasingly unreliable as they contain ever more significant exclusions, raising not so much the prospect of an end to quiescence but an over-estimation of the extent of decline.