Health Workers and Strikes: Ethics and Rights

Authors : Jesani, Amar

Published Year: 1998

Issues in Medical Ethics, Vol. VI(3), July-September 1998, 73 p.

Every time health workers go on strike, a battle is waged not only between strikers and their managements, but also between the right to strike and the ethics of not doing so(1,2,3,4). The latter battle appears to be important, for it raises some controversial issues. A strike is an extreme action, which threatens the livelihood of many strikers if it fails or is crushed. Therefore, at such times fence sitters and doubters are as disliked by strikers as by their opponents. Debates at the time of a strike are often motivated by strikers immediate need for survival and the state's resolve to crush the struggle. The former normally uses the language of rights while the latter of morality. Abstract morality usually projects strikers as 'oppressors' of unattended patients, and supports the real oppressor.

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