What does ILO say about strikes?
One of the first things that would surprise anybody is that right to strike is not mentioned explicitly in ILO Conventions and Recommendations. It has, however been discussed on several occasions in the International Labour Conference during the course of preparatory work on instruments dealing with related topics, but this has never been given the upgrade to international standards directly governing the right to strike. The absence of explicit ILO standards, though, should not be enough to believe that the Organization disregards the right to strike or abstains from facilitating a protective framework within which it may be exercised.
The two supervisory bodies overseeing the application of international conventions, the Committee on Freedom of Association (since 1952) and the Committee of Experts (since 1959), have, while considering the application of Convention 87, built the body of principles of right to strike. The basic principle formed by these bodies can be stated as: “The right to strike is one of the essential and legitimate means through which workers and their organizations may further and defend their social and economic interests” (Hodegs-Aerberhard and Odero De Dios, 1987, p.546). It is immediately clear that this is a general description of the right to strike. The basic consideration accompanying this principle is that strikes must be conducted peacefully. A few more principles complementary to this general principle may be noted here. Strikes of a purely political nature are not recognized while strikes that seek a solution to economic and social policies of the government are covered here (Byre, 1988, P.101).
The right to strike has some riders. It is restricted (or even prohibited) in two special cases, in the case of public servants, and in essential industries. By this exercise, the ILO seeks to exclude some categories of workers and some economic activities from applying the general principle of...