When engaging in any form of workplace advocacy, it is important to be aware of your rights, the scope of activities that are legally protected and how to minimise the risks you face by speaking up, and what to do in the case of retaliation by your employer.
Workers must be aware that engaging in workplace advocacy is not risk-free. Participating in strikes or walkouts in particular are only protected under particular circumstances. While the right to strike is an internationally recognised human right, not all countries’ legal systems grant striking workers decent protections, and many of those that do require specific procedures to be followed.
We strongly encourage you to research the legal situation in your country or jurisdiction, which can vary enormously.
Here are some relevant resources to help, which will be expanded on over time:
- Australia government: Industrial action
- Australian Unions: Industrial action
- UK government: Taking part in industrial actions and strikes
- UK Unison Trade Union: Industrial action, Disputes and grievances
- US National Labour Relations Board: The right to strike
- Workplace Fairness (US)
Here are some key points to bear in mind:
- While employees generally have a right to take industrial action on matters related to the terms and conditions of their employment provided that the correct procedures have been followed, there is little to suggest that this right would extend to advocacy relating to the environmental and social practices of their employer. This is an emerging area and should not be considered traditional “industrial action”, and so caution should be exercised when choosing the tactics to engage companies.
- Organising for workplace advocacy generally should not take place during company time, on company property or using company equipment or email addresses.
- There is safety in numbers. The more workers that join together, the more protected you will be (and the more likely you will be to achieve the aims of your campaign). The most common way of banding together with workers at your company and beyond is by joining a trade union.
For Honest Work’s online community, security is paramount. We will seek to verify new members’ identities to ensure that we are preserving a ‘workers only’ space, while preserving anonymity.