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Lockout (industry)

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Lockout (industry)

A lockout is a temporary work stoppage or denial of employment initiated by the management of a company during a labor dispute.[1] This is different from a strike, in which employees refuse to work. It is usually implemented by simply refusing to admit employees onto company premises, and may include actions such as changing locks and hiring security guards for the premises. Other implementations include a fine for showing up, or a simple refusal of clocking-in on the time clock. It is therefore referred to as the antithesis of strike.[2]


  • Causes 1
  • Examples 2
    • Ireland 2.1
    • United States 2.2
    • Australia 2.3
    • Denmark 2.4
  • Lock-in 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


A lockout is generally used to enforce terms of employment upon a group of employees during a dispute. A lockout can act to force unionized workers to accept changed conditions such as lower wages. If the union is asking for higher wages, better benefits or to maintain their benefits, an employer may use the threat of a lockout or an actual lockout to convince the union to back down.



The Dublin Lockout (Irish: Frithdhúnadh Mór Bhaile-Átha-Cliath) 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 Irish history. Central to the dispute was the workers' right to unionize.

United States

In the United States, under federal labor law, an employer may hire only temporary replacements during a lockout. In a strike, unless it is an unfair labor practice (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 become a more common tactic of many employers. Even as incidents of strikes are on the decline, incidents of lockouts are on the rise in the U.S.

In the 1892 after several wage cuts and disputes with the employers at the Homestead Steel Mill in Homestead, PA, the labor union called for a strike after the company stopped discussing its decisions with the union. Henry Clay Frick shut down the plant and locked out all of the workers, preventing them from entering the mill.

Recent notable lockout incidents have been reported in professional sports, notably involving Major League Baseball in the 1990 offseason, the National Basketball Association in the 1995 offseason, the 1996 offseason, and the 1998–99 and 2011–12 seasons, the National Hockey League in the 1994–95, 2004–05 and 2012–13 seasons, and the National Football League in the 2011 offseason. The controversial 2012 NFL referee lockout only involved referees and not players. 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, stevedoring company Patrick Corporation sought to restructure its operations for productivity reasons. In an industrial watershed event, it sacked all its workers and imposed a lockout on wharves around Australia.[3]

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 for several days.[4]


On 2 April 2013, Danish Union of Teachers, DFL (Danish: Danmarks Lærerforening) and Local Government Association, KL (Danish: Kommunernes Landsforening) declared a lockout for more than 60.000 primary school teachers across the country. Over 600.000 students were affected by the lockout and could not return to school. DFL and KL were arguing, if the teachers should have extra hours working time as KL suggested. DFL were against it and could not find a solution.[5] After 24 days of being locked out, the teachers lost the battle on the 25th of April 2013 with a government intervention which ended the lockout. The current government chose to apply all of KL's main demands and the teachers got a small wage raise as compensation.


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.

Lock-ins should not be confused with a sit-down strike like the Flint Sit-Down Strike between the United Automobile Workers and General Motors Corporation.

More recently, lock-ins have been carried out by employees against management, which have been labelled 'bossnapping' by the mainstream media. In France during March 2009, 3M's national manager was locked in his office for 24 hours by employees in a dispute over redundancies.[6][7][8] The following month, union employees of a call centre managed by Synovate in Auckland locked the front doors of the office, in response to management locking them out.[9] Such practices bear some resemblance to the gherao in India. It is also caused by disagreement between employer and employees in a certain department.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Lockouts - what is human resource ?". Retrieved November 24, 2012. 
  3. ^ , (Parliamentary Library), n15, 1998.Current Issues BriefSteve O'Neill, "Outline of the Waterfront Dispute",
  4. ^ Qantas grounds entire fleet - ABC/Yahoo News, 29 Oct 2011
  5. ^ Lockout to take effect April 2 - The Copenhagen Post, 25 Mar 2013
  6. ^ "Striking French workers free boss". BBC News. 2009-03-26. Retrieved 2009-09-19. 
  7. ^ Sage, Adam (2009-04-04). "Angry French workers turn to 'Bossnapping' to solve their problems". The Times (London). Retrieved 2009-09-19. 
  8. ^ Matlack, Carol. "BusinessWeek Europe - Sarkozy's "Bossnapping" Dilemma". Retrieved 2009-09-19. 
  9. ^ "Locked out call-centre staff lock managers in". NZ Herald. 2009-04-14. Retrieved 2009-09-19. 

External links

  • New and histories of lockouts, on
  • Account of the great farm lockout of 1872 on EASF
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