IBM workers in Italy are set to go on strike over a pay dispute. But rather than get cold standing around a brazier in a donkey jacket, IBM's awkward squad will take their industrial action to the streets. The virtual streets of Second Life.

RSU (Rappresentanza Sindacale Unitaria) IBM Vimercate, the trade union of IBM's 9,000 Italian workers, is calling out the avatars to man, er, avatar the picket lines. One avatar out, all avatars out, as they say in Second Life.

Quite what such action will entail is difficult to say at this point. It is possible, I suppose, that the whole story is an attention-grabbing exercise by the union. But I've started writing now...

A union spokesman told The Register that it wants Second Life avatars from around the world to participate in the action. Frankly, this appals me. If all the avatars strike, who's going to man (avatar) the virtual hospitals and schools? The entire pretend economy could collapse.

The potential industrial action is because IBM workers in Italy feel underpaid. And the potential method of action is interesting.

The big companies love to use Second Life as a marketing and PR tool, and now the unions could use it against big business. Second Life offers immediate news coverage around the world, and if the workers had gone on a traditional strike, I'd never have heard about it.

Plus, manning the picket line from your computer chair is a damn site more pleasant than standing around in the cold.

See also:

'Pervert' sues in Second Life sex case

The future of Second Life