Selecting a language will automatically trigger the translation of the page content.

Right to strike of private sector employees

Verified 24 June 2021 - Legal and Administrative Information Directorate (Prime Minister)

The right to strike is a right granted to any employee in the company, subject to conditions. Strike is defined as the collective and concerted cessation of work in support of occupational demands. It results in a deduction from the wages of the striker (except for exceptions).

Any employee of a company can use his right to strike.

It is not necessary for all or the majority of employees in the company to participate in the strike.

A strike is an individual right, but it is exercised collectively.

To qualify as a strike, the movement must be followed by at least 2 employees.

However, an employee may strike alone under the following conditions:

  • Either the employee accompanies a national call to strike
  • Either he is the only employee in the company

To be valid, the strike must meet the following 3 conditions:

  • A complete stop
  • Collective stoppage of work by all striking employees (the call of a union to strike is not necessary)
  • Vocational claims (e.g. wage claims on working conditions or employment protection)

The strike action is not valid in any of the following cases:

  • Strike pearl, i.e. due to idling or intentionally defective conditions by the employee
  • Strike limited to a specific obligation of the employees' employment contract (e.g. on-call time)
  • Successive actions leading to the blocking of the company without collective and concerted stoppage of work
  • Strike based solely on political grounds

Employees participating in an illegal movement are not protected by the right to strike. He risks disciplinary sanction and can be fired.

FYI  

a collective agreement may not limit or regulate the exercise of the right to strike.

In the private sector, a strike can be called at any time.

Employees who want to use their right to strike do not have to respect notice.

A strike is legal even if it has not been preceded by a warning or an attempt at conciliation with the employer.

Employees are not obliged to respect a period of notice before starting the strike.

However, the employer must be aware of the workers' occupational demands when the strike is called.

Employees are not obliged to wait for their employer's refusal to meet their demands before starting the strike.

The striking employee is not obliged to inform his employer of his intention to exercise his right to strike.

Warning  

special rules apply to companies engaged in a public passenger service or in air transport.

There is no minimum or maximum legal duration.

The strike can be short (1 hour or less) or continue for a long period (several days or weeks).

It can be repeated.

Example :

A total and concerted stoppage of work of 1/4 hour every hour for 10 days is a normal exercise of the right to strike.

Strikers must respect the work of non-strikers.

Blocking access to a site or occupying premises with the intention of preventing the work of non-strikers is an abuse.

The same applies to the degradation of premises or equipment.

Such actions are illegal and can therefore be punished criminally, as can acts of violence against company management or staff.

Trade unions and strikers are responsible for abuses during a strike.

The employer and non-strikers can seek redress in court, including before the prud'homme council and/or competent criminal judge.

Striker

Strike suspend the contract of employment, but does not break it.

No employee can be punished or discriminated against (e.g. in terms of salary increases) for striking.

No employee can be fired for striking.

However, in the event of gross misconduct by the employee (personal and active participation in illegal acts, in particular), the employee may be dismissed.

The employer withholds from the employee's pay a share of the salary and any incidentals (such as travel allowance).

The withholding tax on remuneration shall be proportional to the duration of the work stoppage. Any higher restraint is prohibited.

However, in some cases, the employer must pay his salary to the striker (if the strike was caused by a serious and deliberate breach of duty by the employer or if a strike termination agreement provided for it).

Please note

the right to strike should not be mentioned on the striker's pay slip.

Non-Striker Employee

The employer must provide work for and pay the non-striker, unless he can prove that he was unable to operate the company.

For example, in the event of a picket line or the occupation of premises, the non-striker may be unable to work. The employer can then be relieved of its obligation to pay the non-striker.