Labour Market Reforms and Lockouts in New Zealand
Perry, L J
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This paper reviews New Zealand’s experience of lockouts over the last nearly two decades. It employs published and unpublished official (Statistics New Zealand) data plus unofficial data on the following, hitherto ignored, dimensions of lockouts: (i) employees involved in lockouts, (ii) person-days lost due to lockouts and (iii) the average duration of lockouts. The patterns of lockouts are compared for different New Zealand politico-legislative eras from 1986 to 2004. It is found that there has been, over time, a declining trend in the incidence of person-days lost due both to strikes and to lockouts in New Zealand. But the relative incidence of person-days lost due to lockouts vis a vis strikes rose quite sharply during the middle years of the operation of the union-hostile Employment Contracts Act, 1991. Comparisons are made with Australian experience. There are some notable similarities in the pattern of lockouts in both countries, including the tendency for the average duration of lockouts to be considerably longer than the average the duration of strikes.