Definition of down tools in English:

down tools

phrase

British
informal
  • Stop work, especially as a form of industrial action.

    ‘the union instructed its members to down tools’
    • ‘Today production at the 600-man pit was at a standstill as shocked workmates downed tools and went home as a mark of respect.’
    • ‘Between 300 and 400 workers in the old City Borough area downed tools after a mass meeting this morning and their colleagues throughout the metropolitan district were expected to quickly follow suit.’
    • ‘Scores of workers on the site downed tools and watched in disbelief.’
    • ‘Within hours workers at the Amec yard in Wallsend also downed tools and walked out.’
    • ‘Six pickets and a handful of supporters displayed placards at the 26-acre site's main gate this morning as up to 400 members of union Amicus downed tools for 24 hours in a row over pay.’
    • ‘Tens of thousands of South Korean workers downed tools and walked off the job to protest the government's hardline labour policy.’
    • ‘More than 100 firefighters across the town are set to down tools at 9am tomorrow in what will be the first fire strike of the new year.’
    • ‘Refuse workers downed tools in protest at redundancies and overtime cuts after bosses underestimated the cost of fulfilling their contract with Bromley Council.’
    • ‘Next Tuesday, August 19, will see CIE workers down tools to hold protest marches between peak travel times.’
    • ‘Britain's dockers last downed tools in 1989 to protest at the abolition of the National Dock Labour scheme, which had given them jobs for life since the post-war period.’