Lockout (industry)
A lockout is a work stoppage in which an employer prevents employees from working. This is different from a strike
Strike action
Strike action, also called labour strike, on strike, greve , or simply strike, is a work stoppage caused by the mass refusal of employees to work. A strike usually takes place in response to employee grievances. Strikes became important during the industrial revolution, when mass labour became...

, in which employees refuse to work.


A lockout may happen for several reasons. One reason is so that employers can lower its costs by using a lockout to force unionized workers to accept lower wages. If the union is asking for higher wages, or better benefits, an employer may use the threat of a lockout or an actual lockout to convince the union to back down.


The term lock-in refers to the practice of physically preventing workers from leaving a workplace. In most jurisdictions this is illegal but is occasionally reported, especially in some developing countries.

More recently, lock-ins have been carried out by employees against management, which have been labelled 'bossnapping
Bossnapping is a form of lock-in where employees detain management in the workplace, often in protest against lay-offs and redundancies, and has especially been carried out in France...

' by the mainstream media. In France during March 2009, 3M
3M Company , formerly known as the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, is an American multinational conglomerate corporation based in Maplewood, Minnesota, United States....

's national manager was locked in his office for 24 hours by employees in a dispute over redundancies. The following month, union employees of a call centre managed by Synovate
Synovate was a market research firm owned by the Aegis Group. It was formed from the acquisition of a number of smaller market research firms. It has a number of different divisions, such as Synovate Healthcare, Synovate Customer Experience, Synovate Censydiam and Motoresearch. They claimed...

 in Auckland
The Auckland metropolitan area , in the North Island of New Zealand, is the largest and most populous urban area in the country with residents, percent of the country's population. Auckland also has the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world...

 locked the front doors of the office, in response to management locking them out. Such practices bear some resemblance to the gherao
Gherao, meaning "encirclement," is a word originally from Hindi and is a typically Indian way of protest. Usually, a group of people would surround a politician or a government building until their demands are met, or answers given...

in India. It is also caused by disagreement between employer and employees in a certain department.


The Dublin Lockout
Dublin Lockout
The Dublin Lock-out was a major industrial dispute between approximately 20,000 workers and 300 employers which took place in Ireland's capital city of Dublin. The dispute lasted from 26 August 1913 to 18 January 1914, and is often viewed as the most severe and significant industrial dispute in...

  was a major industrial dispute between approximately 20,000 workers and 300 employers which took place in Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

's capital city of Dublin. The dispute lasted from 26 August 1913 to 18 January 1914, and is often viewed as the most severe and significant industrial dispute in Irish history
History of Ireland
The first known settlement in Ireland began around 8000 BC, when hunter-gatherers arrived from continental Europe, probably via a land bridge. Few archaeological traces remain of this group, but their descendants and later Neolithic arrivals, particularly from the Iberian Peninsula, were...

. Central to the dispute was the workers' right to unionize
Labor rights
Labor rights or workers' rights are a group of legal rights and claimed human rights having to do with labor relations between workers and their employers, usually obtained under labor and employment law. In general, these rights' debates have to do with negotiating workers' pay, benefits, and safe...


United States

In the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, under federal
Federal government of the United States
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...

 labor law, an employer may hire only temporary replacements during a lockout. In a strike, unless it is an unfair labor practice
Unfair labor practice
In United States labor law, the term unfair labor practice refers to certain actions taken by employers or unions that violate the National Labor Relations Act and other legislation...

 (ULP) strike, an employer may legally hire permanent replacements. Also, in many U.S. states, employees who are locked out are eligible to receive unemployment benefits, but are not eligible for such benefits during a strike.

For the above reasons, many American employers have historically been reluctant to impose lockouts, instead attempting to provoke a strike. However, as American unions have increasingly begun to resort to slowdowns rather than strikes, lockouts have come "back in fashion" for many employers. Even as incidents of strikes are on the decline, incidents of lockouts are on the rise in the U.S.

Recent notable lockout incidents have been reported in professional sports, notably involving the National Basketball Association
National Basketball Association
The National Basketball Association is the pre-eminent men's professional basketball league in North America. It consists of thirty franchised member clubs, of which twenty-nine are located in the United States and one in Canada...

 in the 1995 offseason and the 1998–99
1998–99 NBA lockout
The 1998–99 NBA lockout was the third lockout in the history of the National Basketball Association . It lasted from July 1, 1998 to January 20, 1999, and forced the 1998–99 season to be shortened to 50 games per team and that season's All-Star Game to be canceled...

 and 2011–12 seasons
2011 NBA lockout
The 2011 NBA lockout is the fourth lockout in the history of the National Basketball Association . The owners began the work stoppage at 12:01 am EDT on July 1, 2011. The main issues dividing the owners and the players are revenue sharing and the structure of the salary cap...

, the National Hockey League
National Hockey League
The National Hockey League is an unincorporated not-for-profit association which operates a major professional ice hockey league of 30 franchised member clubs, of which 7 are currently located in Canada and 23 in the United States...

 in the 1994–95 and 2004–05 seasons, and the National Football League
National Football League
The National Football League is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing...

 in the 2011 offseason
2011 NFL lockout
The 2011 National Football League lockout was a lockout that lasted from March 11 to July 25. It occurred primarily during the offseason for 18 weeks and 4 days...

. In 2005, the NHL became the first major professional sports league in North America to cancel an entire season due to a lockout.


On 8 April 1998, major stevedoring company Patrick Corporation
Patrick Corporation
Patrick Corporation Ltd was an Australian publicly listed logistics conglomerate. Headed by CEO Chris Corrigan before it was absorbed by Toll Holdings in 2006, Patrick had interests in shipping, rail and aviation, including a 62% shareholding in airline Virgin Blue...

 sought to restructure its operations for productivity reasons. In an industrial watershed event
1998 Australian waterfront dispute
The Australian waterfront dispute of 1998 was a watershed event in Australian Industrial Relations history, in which the Patrick Corporation undertook a restructuring of their operations for the purpose of increasing the productivity of their workforce...

, it sacked all its workers and imposed a lockout on wharves around Australia.

On 29 October 2011, Qantas Airways declared a lockout of all domestic employees in the face of ongoing union industrial action. This cancelled all flights, grounding the entire fleet effective immediately.

See also

  • Walkout
    In labor disputes, a walkout is a labor strike, the act of employees collectively leaving the workplace as an act of protest.A walkout can also mean the act of leaving a place of work, school, a meeting, a company, or an organization, especially if meant as an expression of protest or disapproval.A...

  • FaSinPat
    FaSinPat, formerly known as Zanon, is a worker-controlled ceramic tile factory in the southern Argentine province of Neuquén, and one of the most prominent in the recovered factory movement of Argentina...

    , an Argentine recovered factory following a lockout
  • Dublin Lockout
    Dublin Lockout
    The Dublin Lock-out was a major industrial dispute between approximately 20,000 workers and 300 employers which took place in Ireland's capital city of Dublin. The dispute lasted from 26 August 1913 to 18 January 1914, and is often viewed as the most severe and significant industrial dispute in...

  • Strikebreaker
    A strikebreaker is a person who works despite an ongoing strike. Strikebreakers are usually individuals who are not employed by the company prior to the trade union dispute, but rather hired prior to or during the strike to keep the organisation running...

  • Government shutdown
    Government shutdown
    In U.S. politics, a government shutdown is a situation in which the government stops providing all but "essential" services. Typically, services that continue despite a shutdown include police, fire fighting, postal service, armed forces, utilities, air traffic management, and corrections.- Causes...

External links

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