Strikes and lockouts are legitimate actions used by parties to advance their bargaining aims. These actions can have a significant impact on both parties and shouldn’t be taken lightly. They can:

  • have major emotional and economic effects on the parties, their families and in some cases, on society
  • significantly harm the relationships of those bargaining.

Strikes and lockouts are also lawful where those striking or locking out have reasonable grounds for believing health or safety is being compromised.


Employees strike when a number of employees totally or partially:

  • break their employment agreement
  • stop work or don’t accept some or all the work they usually do
  • reduce their normal output, performance, or rate of work.

Employees don’t have to stop work completely for them to be on strike.

To be a strike the action must be part of a combination, agreement, common understanding, or joint action made or done by the employees. Employees can do this action to try to make their employer give in to their demands. Employers can’t discriminate against employees for taking part in a lawful strike.


Employers lockout employees when they close, suspend, or discontinue their business or a part of it, break some or all of an employee’s employment agreement, don’t give them work they would usually give them, or suspend employees. To be a lockout, this action must be done to try to make their employees, (or to help another employer make their employees), accept terms of employment or comply with their demands. Employers may also lock out on health and safety grounds.