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Strike action, also called labour strike, labour strike, or simply strike, is a work stoppage, caused by the mass refusal of employees to work.[1] A strike usually takes place in response to employee grievances. Strikes became common during the Industrial Revolution when mass labour became important in factories and mines.

In most countries, strike actions were quickly made illegal, as factory owners had far more power than workers. Most Western countries partially legalized striking in the late 19th or early 20th centuries.

Strikes are sometimes used to pressure governments to change policies. Occasionally, strikes destabilize the rule of a particular political party or ruler; in such cases, strikes are often part of a broader social movement taking the form of a campaign of civil resistance.

Notable examples are the 1980 Gdansk Shipyard,[2] and the 1981 Warning Strike,[3] led by Lech Wałęsa.

These strikes were significant in the long campaign of civil resistance for political change in Poland and were an important mobilizing effort that contributed to the fall of the Iron Curtain and the end of communist party rule in eastern Europe.[4]

The first historically certain account of strike action was towards the end of the 20th dynasty, under Pharaoh Ramses III in ancient Egypt on 14 November in 1152 BC.

The artisans of the Royal Necropolis at Deir el-Medina walked off their jobs because they had not been paid.[5] The Egyptian authorities raised the wages.

The first Jewish source for the idea of a labour strike appears in the Talmud, which describes that the bakers who prepared showbread for the altar went on strike.[6]

An early predecessor of the general strike may have been the secessio plebis in ancient Rome. In The Outline of History, H. G. Wells characterized this event as “the general strike of the plebeians; the plebeians seem to have invented the strike, which now makes its first appearance in history.”[7] 

Their first strike occurred because they “saw with indignation their friends, who had often served the state bravely in the legions, thrown into chains and reduced to slavery at the demand of patrician creditors”.[8]

During and after the Industrial Revolution

The strike action only became a feature of the political landscape with the onset of the Industrial Revolution. For the first time in history, large numbers of people were members of the industrial working class; they lived in cities and exchanged their labour for payment.

By the 1830s, when the Chartist movement was at its peak in Britain, a true and widespread ‘workers consciousness’ was awakening. In 1838, a Statistical Society of London committee “used the first written questionnaire… The committee prepared and printed a list of questions ‘designed to elicit the complete and impartial history of strikes.'”[9]

In 1842 the demands for fairer wages and conditions across many different industries finally exploded into the first modern general strike.

After the second Chartist Petition was presented to Parliament in April 1842 and rejected, the strike began in the coal mines of Staffordshire, England, and soon spread through Britain affecting factories, mills in Lancashire and coal mines from Dundee to South Wales and Cornwall.[10]

 Instead of being a spontaneous uprising of the mutinous masses, the strike was politically motivated and was driven by an agenda to win concessions.

Probably as much as half of the then industrial workforce were on strike at its peak – over 500,000 men. The local leadership marshalled a growing working-class tradition to politically organize their followers to mount an articulate challenge to the capitalist, political establishment. Friedrich Engels, an observer in London at the time, wrote:

by its numbers, this class has become the most powerful in England, and woe betide the wealthy Englishmen when it becomes conscious of this fact … The English proletarian is only just becoming aware of his power, and the fruits of this awareness were the disturbances of last summer.[11]

As the 19th century progressed, strikes became a fixture of industrial relations across the industrialized world, as workers organized themselves to collectively bargain for better wages and standards with their employers. Karl Marx has condemned the theory of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon criminalizing strike action in his work The Poverty of Philosophy.[12]

In 1937 there were 4,740 strikes in the United States.[13] This was the greatest strike wave in American labour history.

The number of major strikes and lockouts in the U.S. fell by 97% from 381 in 1970 to 187 in 1980 to only 11 in 2010. Companies countered the threat of a strike by threatening to close or move a plant.[14]

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights adopted in 1967 ensure the right to strike in Article 8 and European Social Charter adopted in 1961 also ensures the right to strike in Article 6


Strike action, also called labour strike, labour strike, or simply strike, is a work stoppage, caused by the mass refusal of employees to work. A strike usually takes place in response to employee grievances. It is clearly enunciated in the international labour organizations framework and the Cameroon labour code.

But a problem arises e.g. In 2008, the national confederation of free trade unions, CSAC, denounced the anti-union tactics being deployed by the human resources management at SIAC-Brasserie Isenbeck, which was in the process of being taken over by the Société Anonyme des brasseries du Cameroun.


To what extend is the right to strike protected under the Cameroonian legal system?


  • What are the relevant provisions in international law with regards to strike?
  • What is the role of Cameroon laws regarding strike?
  • How effective is the law and institutions in the protection of the right to strike in Cameroon?
  • What policy recommendations can be made to address the issue?


The objectives are divided into general and specific objectives


The goal of the research is to critically examine the right to strike in the Cameroonian legal system.


  • To examine the international framework for the protection of the right to strike.
  • To examine the laws and institutions in the protection of the right to strike in Cameroon.
  • To assess the effectiveness of the laws and institutions in the protection of the right to strike in Cameroon.
  • To make policy recommendations that can address the issues.

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