Strike and lockout
Strikes are very serious conflicts © University of Bergen
Of course we have no laws prohibiting conflicts! What we have, are laws and regulations that support the idea of establishing a good psychosocial work environment. We have a Working Environment Act in most countries, and many of these state explicitly that this act is important also for mental health and psychosocial work environment, not only to avoid physical hazards for health at work. This might be interpreted to mean that you should work to avoid conflict situations at work, as they may cause adverse health effects. The employees must be safe and must not risk being fired if they express their opinions to the leadership - and on the other hand; the employers should not tolerate negative behaviour. A fair balance is needed.
A lockout is a serious step for employers to take.
Strike and lockout
However, sometimes huge and serious conflicts arise, affecting many workers. The health effects of such conflicts may be huge, as payment can be stopped and uncertainties related to the work situation can increase. It is important to be aware of stress related health problems seen during and after such work conflicts. However, we will not go deeply into these types of conflicts here, only give you the definitions of strike and lockout. You need to know what these terms mean.
Definitions of strike and lockout
One measure of the failure of social dialogue at work is the occurrence of a strike or lockout. Industrial actions, such as strikes and lockout, are perhaps the most highly profiled aspect of social dialogue, at least in terms of media coverage and public impact and attention. In certain circumstances, the absence of strike action could indicate the absence of the right to strike and/or weak social dialogue.
The ILO “Resolution concerning statistics of strikes, lockouts and other action due to labour disputes” gives the following definitions:
A strike is a temporary work stoppage effected by one or more groups of workers with a view to enforcing or resisting demands or expressing grievances, or supporting other workers in their demands or grievances.
A lockout is a total or partial temporary closure of one or more places of employment, or the hindering of the normal work activities of employees, by one or more employers with a view to enforcing or resisting demands or expressing grievances, or supporting other employers in their demands or grievances.
Workers involved in a strike: Workers directly involved in a strike are those who participate directly by stopping their work. Workers indirectly involved in a strike are those employees of the establishments involved, or self-employed workers in the group involved, who did not participate directly by stopping their work but who were prevented from working because of the strike.
Workers involved in a lockout: Workers directly involved in a lockout are those employees of the establishments involved who were directly concerned by the labor dispute and who were prevented from working by the lockout. Workers indirectly involved in a lockout are those employees of the establishments involved who were not directly concerned by the labor dispute but who were prevented from working by the lockout.
Few countries seem willing to invest significant resources in their systems of statistics on strikes and lockouts, and as a result, little such data is available. Also, one should be aware that the right to strike is not present in all countries of the world, although a number of resolutions and international bodies have stated the importance of this right.
© University of Bergen/Authors: B.E. Moen, G. Tjalvin