Sympathy Strike is a type of strike wherein though the person involved in the strike (striker) doesn’t have any direct grievances against the other party (against whom the strike is being carried out) but still participates in the strike just to ensure/ extend their support to the employee.
A more precise definition of sympathy strike states that it is the strike when one union supports the strike activities (dispute between the union and the employers) of the other union despite the fact that the union supporting the first one has no grievances against the employees. It is a strike which may be initiated by the labors of one union and are supported by the workers from a totally different industry. When workers belonging to a group refuse to work to support workers belonging to the other group it is referred as sympathy strike. Some countries do not recognize such acts as any violation to their employment contracts.
Ban on sympathy strikes can be exempted under two circumstances:
(a) The strike which the workers are supporting is an unfair employee practice, in such cases the employer’s refuse to bargain as the demands aren’t very ethical. The employees can’t be fired or permanently replaced if they are following the picket lines of the ULP.
(b) The National Labor Relation Act states that if an act is made to stop (so as to avoid) any dangerous working condition it’s not considered as a strike.
There was a perception that ban on strike, bars, non strike clause etc. help in prohibiting the sympathy strikes but the actual situation has been totally different. It’s totally at the discretion of the parties to avoid it. Most of the organizations follow the concept of collective bargaining which contains the no strike/ no lockout clause.