Is Ola Uber's strike tomorrow?

How does collective bargaining work?

If trade unions want to achieve better pay or better working conditions for workers, a strike is the last resort to achieve the set goals. What actually happens beforehand?

Everything starts with the termination of an existing collective agreement or the start of negotiations about something that has not yet been regulated in a collective agreement, e.g. part-time models. The negotiations are often accompanied by warning strikes to build up pressure. Warning strikes are limited in time and space. They do not yet require a ballot, but a strike call by the responsible union. Usually a result is achieved in several rounds of negotiations, so that an indefinite strike can be avoided. If, however, an agreement is not reached, the responsible trade union bodies declare the negotiations to have failed. There are several procedural steps before a strike.

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Termination of the collective agreement

If a collective bargaining party seeks changes to a collective bargaining agreement, it terminates it. In the case of collective wage agreements, this usually takes place after the agreed minimum term has expired by the responsible trade unions. But collective agreements are also terminated by employers, e.g. if agreements on company pensions are to be changed (and usually worsened).

Entering into collective bargaining

After the termination of the collective agreement, the parties to the collective agreement sit down at the negotiating table and try to reach an agreement on the conclusion of a new collective agreement. This is often accompanied by warning strikes and other high-profile actions.

Warning strike

Warning strikes are limited in time and space. They do not yet require a ballot, but a strike call by the responsible union. As part of the so-called new mobility, short-term warning strikes are permitted during the course of collective bargaining, but must not lead to illegal actions. Large participation in warning strikes is intended to make it clear to employers that employees are willing to take part in industrial action in order to enforce union demands.

Failure of collective bargaining

If the negotiations have stalled, one of the parties to the collective agreement can declare the failure of the negotiations. In this situation, the union can put pressure on employers through an indefinite strike. If the employer and the trade unions have reached an arbitration agreement, the arbitration can also be invoked. Such an arbitration agreement can also be made within the negotiations.

Strike vote

A forced strike, i.e. an open-ended strike, is the last resort and the strongest weapon of the unions in a collective bargaining dispute. It must therefore be ensured that it is supported by the majority of union members. To ensure this, a strike is preceded by a strike vote in which members are asked whether they are willing to stop working in response to the demands made by the unions. The ballot can, depending on regional circumstances, take place in the trade union building or other premises or it can be done in writing by letter. If at least 75 percent of the voters are in favor of a work stoppage, the unions can call for a strike.


The trade unions and their industrial action management decide which groups of workers in which regions are called upon to stop work. In accordance with this strike call, the workers concerned are then asked to stop work.

Resumption of negotiations

Collective bargaining can be resumed at any time. The strike can continue during this time.

Ending the strike

To end the strike, the union members are again asked to declare in a strike vote whether they agree with the result of the negotiations. The strike will only continue if at least 75 percent of the voters consider it necessary. The strike can also be ended by a corresponding resolution by the union.