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Picketing is a form of protest in which people (called pickets or picketers) congregate outside a place of work or location where an event is taking place. Often, this is done in an attempt to dissuade others from going in ("crossing the picket line"), but it can also be done to draw public attention to a cause. Picketers normally endeavor to be non-violent. It can have a number of aims, but is generally to put pressure on the party targeted to meet particular demands or cease operations. This pressure is achieved by harming the business through loss of customers and negative publicity, or by discouraging or preventing workers or customers from entering the site and thereby preventing the business from operating normally.

Picketing is a common tactic used by trade unions during strikes, who will try to prevent dissident members of the union, members of other unions and non-unionised workers from working. Those who cross the picket line and work despite the strike are known pejoratively as scabs.

A mass picket is an attempt to bring as many people as possible to a picket line to demonstrate support for the cause. It is primarily used when only one workplace is being picketed or for a symbolically or practically important workplace. Due to the numbers involved, a mass picket may turn into a potentially unlawful blockade.

Secondary picketing is the picketing of locations that are directly connected to the issue of protest. That would include component suppliers on which the picketed business relies, retail stores that sell products by the company against which is being picketed, sister companies of the company involved in the dispute and the private homes of the company's management. In many jurisdictions, secondary pickets do not have the same civil law protection as primary pickets.

Another tactic is to organise highly mobile pickets, who can turn up at any of a company's locations on short notice. These flying pickets are particularly effective against multi-facility businesses that could otherwise pursue legal prior restraint and shift operations among facilities if the location of the picket were known with certainty ahead of time. The first recorded use of flying pickets was during the 1969 miners' strike in Britain.

Increasingly, with the introduction of the Internet and digital photography, picketers have placed cameras at the entrances of their targets, often accompanied with written notices warning those who cross the picket line that their photographs (and, where known, their names and addresses) will be posted on the picketers' website. Their legality has been challenged in some jurisdictions on the grounds that such tactics violate privacy rights or are intended to incite later reprisals against such individuals.

In the UK mass picketing was made illegal under the Trade Disputes and Trade Unions Act 1927 after the 1926 General Strike. The Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 gives protection, under civil law, for pickets who are acting in connection with an industrial dispute at or near their workplace who are using their picketing peacefully to obtain or communicate information or persuading any person to work or abstain from working. However, many employers have recently taken to gaining injunctions to limit the effect of picketing outside their work place. The granting of injunctions tends to be based on the accusation of intimidation or, in general, on non-peaceful behaviour and the claim that numbers of the picketers are not from the affected workplace.

In the US, any strike activity was hard to organise in the early 1900s, but picketing became more common after the Norris-LaGuardia Act of 1932, which limited the ability of employers to gain injunctions to stop strikes, and further legislation to support the right to organise for the unions. Mass picketing and secondary picketing was however outlawed by the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act. Some kinds of pickets are constitutionally protected.

Viewing laws against stalking as potentially inconsistent with labour rights of picketing, the first anti-stalking law of the industrial world, made by California's lawmakers, inserted provisions that disapply the law from "normal labor picketing", which has survived subsequent amendments.

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