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Industrial action and stoppages

Last updated June 2023

This chapter explains industrial action and work stoppages, and how you can manage the implications of these actions.

What is industrial action?

Industrial action is any action taken by workers or employers in relation to work tasks or the work environment. It is usually used to advance a claim as part of an industrial dispute or during enterprise bargaining.

Definition: Industrial Dispute

An industrial dispute is a disagreement between employers and workers over a matter relating to their employment relationship, e.g. their pay or hours.
Definition: Enterprise Bargaining

Enterprise bargaining (or collective bargaining) is the process of negotiating the terms and conditions of employment between an employer and a group of workers.

Industrial action that can be taken by workers includes:

  • a strike;
  • performing work differently, e.g. a ‘go-slow’ when workers deliberately perform work slower than usual;
  • work to rule, i.e. when workers do no more than is strictly required;
  • a stop-work meeting;
  • refusing to attend work; and
  • a work ban or restriction on the work performed, i.e. when workers refuse to perform particular duties or to perform work as directed.