Strike and Lockout

Strikes and lockouts are legitimate, collectective employment related actions generally taken by workers as a response to economic conditions or labour practices within their workplace.

strike action .jpeg

source: Unsplash

 

Strikes and lockouts are legitimate, collective employment related actions generally taken by workers as a response to economic conditions or labour practices within their workplace.

 

Either action should be considered serious as these will always have impacts on:

 

  • The emotional and economic wellbeing of those involved as well as their families and in some cases on the community or society at large, depending on the industry that the strike or lockout is occurring in.

  • These actions could also harm the relationship of those who are bargaining

  • Strikes and lockouts are also completely lawful on the grounds that those involved believe there is a risk to their health and safety by continuing to work 

 

Strikes
 

Strikes occur when the employees either totally or partially:

 

  • Break their employment agreement 

  • Cease to continue working or refuse to perform part of their usual duties 

  • Reduce their normal opt-out (this usually relates to the maximum hours world in a week), performance or rate of work

 

Strikes do not usually have to result in a complete cessation of working. 

 

Employees can take strike action to make their employer give in to their demands so long as it is part of a common understanding or joint action taken by the employees.  

 

Lockouts
 

Lockouts occur when employers close, suspend or discontinue part or all of their business. Lockouts can also occur when an employer:

  • breaks some or all of their employee’s employment agreements

  • refuse to give them the work that they usually do or,

  • suspend them.  

 

Lockout action is taken by an employer to force their employees to accept the terms of employment or comply with their demands. Employers can also stage a lockout due to health and safety concerns. 

 

So long as strike action has been carried out in a legal manner with the correct amount of notice given, then it can not be stopped. Employees can only legally strike or be locked out for health and safety reasons or in relation to collective bargaining if they will be bound by the collective agreement being bargained for.

 

Strikes and lockouts related to collective bargaining may be legal:

  • if they relate to bargaining for a single-party or multi-party collective agreement; and at least 1 of the employees’ existing collective agreements has expired; and the parties began bargaining at least 40 days earlier; or

  • where part of a collective agreement is illegal and the Employment Court has made an order suspending that part

  • if it is in an essential service (specified in Schedule 1 of the Employment Relations Act) but only if the requirements for notice have been met.

Employees can’t go on strike or be locked out if:

  • less than 40 days have passed since the bargaining was initiated

  • there is a current collective agreement 

  • it relates to including a bargaining fee clause in the collective agreement 

  • it relates to a personal grievance 

  • it relates to a dispute

  • it relates to freedom of association 

  • it is in an essential service and the right notice hasn’t been given

  • it is against a court order.


When a strike or lockout is illegal, the party affected by the strike, i.e. the employees during a lockout, can apply to the Employment court for an injunction to halt it or sue for any loss as a direct result of the strike or lockout.