The Return of the Lockout in Australia: a Profile of Lockouts since the Decentralisation of Bargaining
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"Virtually unheard of outside the struggles of unions to establish themselves in the 1880s-90s and the Great Depression1, lockouts have resurfaced in a series of disputes since the decentralisation of bargaining during the 1990s. A quantitative profile of lockouts during the past decade of enterprise bargaining is presented as the first phase of a project which examines lockouts in Australia. Lockouts are still rare, but the number of working days lost in disputes with lockouts was almost six times greater for the second half-decade of enterprise bargaining than the first half-decade. Moreover, lockouts accounted for over half of the long disputes (i.e. over a month). Lockouts are especially common in manufacturing (though all major ANZSIC categories have had at least one lockout), where they constituted one quarter of all working days lost to industrial disputes in the second half-decade of enterprise bargaining. Indeed, working days lost to industrial disputes in manufacturing would have fallen but for the rising use of lockouts. Other data are presented showing that lockouts are most common in Victoria, disproportionately common in regional areas and used primarily either to repel union bargaining demands, coerce employees into signing AWAs or as a tool for concession bargaining."