Catholic social teaching supports the right of workers to strike – but only under certain conditions. According to the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (304):
The Church’s social doctrine recognizes the legitimacy of striking “when it cannot be avoided, or at least when it is necessary to obtain a proportionate benefit”, when every other method for the resolution of disputes has been ineffectual…
Striking becomes “morally unacceptable when accompanied by violence, or when objectives are included that are not directly linked to working conditions or are contrary to the common good”.
Does today’s strike fulfil those conditions? Talks are still in progress, so one cannot say all avenues have been exhausted. The strike is contrary to the common good because it will damage the economy. Not only that, but public sector workers are demanding pensions that people in the private sector no longer have: they are, therefore, not thinking about the good of the country as a whole.
On the other hand, public sector workers are being asked to work longer for much less. For low-paid workers, especially, they face a dramatic reduction in the amount of money they take home each month. Surely the government should be protecting the less well-off?
So, is the strike a selfish action to be condemned, or a necessary one to defend the rights of our workforce?