Over the past decades, rapidly changing circumstances have posed serious challenges to European trade unions. Faced with declining membership and increasing dependence on external funding, unions have sought new strategies to retain their inuence in economic decision making. In several western European countries, this resulted in increased institutionalization of unions combined with a rise in professionalism of union leadership. This evolution calls for a strategic approach in studies of strike occurrences, particularly when these strikes are targeted against the government. Nowadays, union leaders have a clear view of the governments room for maneuver and its vulnerability to strikes. Therefore, an empirical study of
strikes against the government should take into account that the start of an enduring strike is a deliberate decision of forward-looking union leaders. In this paper,
we present a strategic model of trade union strikes against the government. Using the statistical backwards induction methodology developed by Bas, Signorino and Walkers (2008), we estimate the determinants of unionsand governments behav-
ior and payo¤s. We nd that governments are more susceptible to pressure when their popularity is increasing and elections are near. In a strategic framework, this fi nding is not irreconcilable with the observation that long-lasting conicts are more likely to occur under these speci c circumstances.