Strikes and Lockouts

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Lockouts and its psychological effect on workers

A lockout has been defined at common law as the cessation by the employer of the furnishing of work to employees in an effort to obtain for the employer more desirable terms. Lockouts can have three purposes: 1. Designed to frustrate bargaining efforts

2. An economic countermove to union’s right to strike

3. To minimize economic or operational losses threatened by an imminent strike

The third type of lockout is legally justified and provides the employer a right to protect the economic integrity of his enterprise. The Supreme Court too accepts “special circumstances” which may force the employer to go on lockouts. This right to go on lockout has the potential to raise doubts on the sincerity of lockout. On the one hand is its business necessity and consistency with the employer's legitimate defensive right to protect and continue his business and on the other hand is the right of employees to go on strike. In one incident the plumbers union went on strike and the contractors anticipated that their construction work could not be completed without the plumbers. This set a chain of events in action and the constructors had to eventually shut down their business. Other crafts which were not on strike were rendered unemployed because of this. Although the shutdown put members of unions, other than the carpenters and operating engineers, out of work, the Examiner held that such action was "defensive" in that it was intended to protect the Association's members from financial loss through crippled operations due to the inter-relationship of the various building trades on construction work which would result from not having carpenters and operating engineers performing essential project work. The labour board upheld the decision by the constructors association and found that they exhibited sound business judgement in closing down. In the abstract, the union has the right to strike and the employer the...
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