European Trade Union Institute, ETUI.

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Strikes in Czechia: background summary

Legislation concerning the right to strike has been very stable over the past 15 years. The right to strike is anchored in the Czech constitutional law, but strikes are not frequent; trade unions use more often strike alerts.

  • The right to strike is guaranteed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms. Certain occupations such as judges, members of armed and security forces are excluded from this right and the right may be limited also in the case of occupations, which are necessary to protect lives and health of citizens (firefighters, health-care and social-care workers etc.) (Galvas et al. 2012).
  • However, Act No. 2/1991 Coll., on collective bargaining restricts the right to strike to situations that are related to collective bargaining. Moreover, a strike can be used as a last resort, if a mediation procedure fails and the two contractual parties do not ask an arbiter to decide. Other types of strikes are illegal under the collective bargaining act and are not regulated by any other legislation. However, in practice strikes for other reasons are not a priori excluded and the legality of particular strikes is evaluated by the court. It is therefore possible to also organize political strikes in order to defend economic or social interests of employees, as long as they are of a collective nature, since strikes cannot defend individual rights of employees. Nevertheless, if a court identifies a strike as illegal, the trade union which organized the strike is responsible for potential employer’s losses (Eurofound; Bělina et al. 2014; Zachar 2012).
  • Strikes and lockouts are legally defined forms of industrial actions. The law further recognizes solidarity strike as a legitimate instrument.
  • A strike can be called only by a trade union organisation (Galvas et al. 2012).
  • To call a strike, at least one half of the employees have to participate in a ballot and a two-thirds majority is required in favour of a strike, i.e. at least one third of all employees have to give their consent to the strike. The organising trade unions have to inform the employer at least three days in advance about the date of the strike, its reasons and goals, the number of participating employees and the workplaces that will not operate due to the strike. They also have to inform the employer immediately about the termination of the strike (see e.g. Bělina et al. 2014). Since 2006 trade unions do not have to provide employers with the list of participating employees (Galvas et al. 2012).
  • Strikes are relatively rare. Trade unions use more often strike alerts. In 2015 ČMKOS members reported 10 strike alerts, the highest figure since 2005, of which 6 were announced in the metal-work industry, 3 in the transport and 1 in the health-care sector. Recently, strike alerts have also been announced in the educational and retail sectors. Conflicts related to wage bargaining are the dominant reason for strikes.
  • The right-leaning government of Civic Democrats (in the office until 2013) came up with the proposal to specify the right to strike for other reasons than those related to the conclusion of a collective agreement and to define conditions under which such a strike may take place; however, the proposal encountered a strong opposition from trade unions who prefer a lower level of strike regulation. As a consequence, the proposal has been suspended (Černá 2013).