The return of the lockout.Abstract
This paper comments on lockouts in Australia and Briggs' (2004a) study of lockouts published in the Australian Bulletin of Labour June 2004. It seeks to look at Briggs findings in a broader historical context, by noting that recent past levels of disputes are a small fraction of the level of disputation during (say) the 1970s, and that lockouts, though more prevalent during the half-decade ended 2003, are an even smaller fraction of the disputation levels that prevailed on average during the 1970s. Briggs study focuses on the manufacturing sector, as this sector has, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. his research findings, been the most lockout-prone. As an addendum addendum n. an addition to a completed written document. Most commonly this is a proposed change or explanation (such as a list of goods to be included) in a contract, or some point that has been subject of negotiation after the contract was originally proposed by to Briggs focus on manufacturing, this paper draws attention to the non-manufacturing sector, which accounts for more than 85 per cent of Australian employees. It is noted that working days lost due to lockouts in this sector have decreased during the half-decade ended 2003 when compared to the preceding half-decade. Indeed, the decline in lockouts in the non-manufacturing sector during the half-decade ended 2003 exceeds the decline in strikes.
In the June 2004 edition of this Journal, Briggs (2004a) presented new information on lockouts in Australia. Because the official collector of information on industrial disputes in Australia, the Australian Bureau of Statistics The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is the Australian government agency that collects and publishes statistical information about Australia and its people. Population and Housing
The agency undertakes the Australian Census of Population and Housing. (ABS (Automatic Backup System) See backup program. ), does not separate disputes into strikes and lockouts, Briggs contribution is of considerable value. There has been much interest in Briggs findings, with many union-related and other internet web sites, for example, drawing attention to some of the key findings. At times this attention has been unduly alarmist a·larm·ist
A person who needlessly alarms or attempts to alarm others, as by inventing or spreading false or exaggerated rumors of impending danger or catastrophe. .
The comments below seek to offer a somewhat different perspective on the 'return of the lockout'. Accordingly, Section 2 seeks to contextualise the evidence of the recent relative rise in lockouts by comparing some aspects of the recent experience discussed in Briggs with that of earlier years. Section 3 reviews the rise in lockouts in the manufacturing sector, juxtaposing the apparent fall in lockouts in other sectors of the economy. Finally some concluding thoughts are offered in Section 4.
Some Perceptions on Recent Lockouts
Briggs research into lockouts in Australia offers a number of interesting insights into the structure of recent industrial disputes in Australia. Some of his key findings include the following:
* During 1994-98, lockouts accounted for 1.6 per cent of all working days lost; whereas during 1999-2003 they accounted for 9.3 per cent.
* During 1994-98, lockouts accounted for 0.4 per cent of all disputes; whereas during 1999-2003 they accounted for 2 per cent of disputes.
* During 1994-98, lockouts accounted for 3 per cent of working days lost in the manufacturing sector; whereas during 1999-2003 they accounted for 26.6 per cent.
* During 1994-98, lockouts accounted for 7.7 per cent of disputes lasting one month or more; whereas during 1999-2003 they accounted for 57.5 per cent of disputes.
During 1994-03, lockouts in Victoria accounted for 50 per cent all lockouts. Near half of all lockouts have occurred in regional areas.
Briggs research has rightly received considerable public attention. However some of the attention has been unduly alarmist. Some commentators have misread mis·read
tr.v. mis·read , mis·read·ing, mis·reads
1. To read inaccurately.
2. To misinterpret or misunderstand: misread our friendly concern as prying. Briggs findings and exaggerated the extent to which lockouts have occurred. (1) And at least one commentator has sought to draw parallels betweens Briggs findings on contemporary lockouts with the strikes and lockouts of the 1890s in pre-federation Australia, (2) the period of the so-called 'Great Strikes'. Such parallels are simply fanciful fan·ci·ful
1. Created in the fancy; unreal: a fanciful story.
2. Tending to indulge in fancy: a fanciful mind.
3. . (3)
It is most important at this stage to distinguish clearly between the research of Briggs and the perceptions entertained by others. Briggs cannot be held responsible for the way others choose to interpret his research.
Briggs' data on lockouts and his analysis thereof are confined con·fine
v. con·fined, con·fin·ing, con·fines
1. To keep within bounds; restrict: Please confine your remarks to the issues at hand. See Synonyms at limit. to the decade ended 2003. This is perfectly understandable, of course, as there would be enormous difficulties involved in figuring out the number of lockouts in earlier decades. Nevertheless, it may be of value to look at Briggs' aggregate data on lockouts within a broader historical context than that offered from a single recent decade of experience. This is because relatively low levels of aggregate stoppages have occurred during the decade ended 2003 in Australia and most other industrialised Adj. 1. industrialised - made industrial; converted to industrialism; "industrialized areas"
industrial - having highly developed industries; "the industrial revolution"; "an industrial nation" countries. In the case of Australia, the number of working days lost due to disputes per employee has, for the decade ended 2003, been lower than in any other decade in Australia's recorded history Recorded history can be defined as history that has been written down or recorded by the use of language, whereas history is a more general term referring simply to information about the past. It starts in the 4th millennium BC, with the invention of writing. . The great difficulty with these historical comparisons is that we do not have any workable data on lockouts for earlier decades. Nevertheless it is probably safe to assume that lockouts were relatively rare during the post-World War II period. This is the view of Briggs as well as of various scholars who have contemporaneously con·tem·po·ra·ne·ous
Originating, existing, or happening during the same period of time: the contemporaneous reigns of two monarchs. See Synonyms at contemporary. researched industrial disputes in earlier eras (Oxnam, 1953, 1975; Walsh 1983).
Table 1 records dispute rates for seven half-decade periods. Half-decade periods are chosen following Briggs. The various half-decade averages are standardised Adj. 1. standardised - brought into conformity with a standard; "standardized education"
standard - conforming to or constituting a standard of measurement or value; or of the usual or regularized or accepted kind; "windows of standard width"; by being expressed as index values in the last column of Table 1. An index base value of 100 is assigned as·sign
tr.v. as·signed, as·sign·ing, as·signs
1. To set apart for a particular purpose; designate: assigned a day for the inspection.
2. to the half-decade 1974-78. This period is chosen as a base-period value on the grounds that the dispute rate during 1974-78 is commonly recognised as being relatively high and problematic. Comparing Australia's dispute rate for 1974-78 with the dispute rate for the half-decade 1999-2003, we see that the dispute rate for the last half-decade is 8 per cent of the value for 1974-78. Clearly the half-decade ended 2003 is one of calm when compared to the 1970s. (4) Arguably ar·gu·a·ble
1. Open to argument: an arguable question, still unresolved.
2. That can be argued plausibly; defensible in argument: three arguable points of law. this needs to be kept in mind when considering the overall level of lockouts during the decade ended 2003. The level of lockouts during the half-decade ended 2003 is less than 1 per cent of the average level of disputes during the mid 1970.
All in all, these data point to the relatively minor dimensions and likely minor impact of lockouts during the half-decade ended 2003. While these lockouts have risen proportionally pro·por·tion·al
1. Forming a relationship with other parts or quantities; being in proportion.
2. Properly related in size, degree, or other measurable characteristics; corresponding: , they are increasing from a small base. Lockouts indeed are, as Briggs states, a rarity.
Manufacturing versus Non-Manufacturing
As noted in Section 2, the principal sector in which lockouts have been occurring during 1999-03 is manufacturing. What about the other sectors? What has been the trend in working days lost due to lockouts in the non-manufacturing sector of the economy? After all, the manufacturing sector has, over the years, declined relative to the rest of the economy. During the period 1994-1998, manufacturing accounted on average for 15 per cent of employees; during 1999-2003, it accounted for 13 per cent. Thus, while manufacturing is, of course, of some importance, the other sectors of the economy are, relatively speaking, of considerably more importance as sources of employment. In addition, disputes in manufacturing accounted for about a quarter of disputes during the decade ended 2003. What about the other three quarters?
Table 2 draws on official ABS data on aggregate stoppages and data in Briggs (2004a) dealing with lockouts. We see from the table that working days lost due to lockouts in all industries have risen quite markedly at 323 per cent, whereas strikes have fallen by a third, when comparing 1994-98 with 1999-2003. Over the same time frame, working days lost in manufacturing due to lockouts rose by 940 per cent--clearly a substantial rise; while strikes fell by one third. As Briggs (2004, pp. 108-9) observes: 'But for the rising usage of lockouts, working days lost to labour disputes would have fallen in manufacturing ...' (5)
Working days lost due to strikes and lockouts in non-manufacturing sectors have in aggregate fallen during the second half-decade. Given the dominance of the non-manufacturing sector as a source of employment and generator of GDP GDP (guanosine diphosphate): see guanine. , this is arguably a notable result. In fact, according to Table 2, the proportional proportional
values expressed as a proportion of the total number of values in a series.
the patient is a miniature without disproportionate reductions or enlargements of body parts. decline in lockouts in non-manufacturing has been greater than the decline in strikes during the second half-decade. This raises a number of questions. Why have lockouts in the dominant employing sector (i.e. the sector that accounts for 85 per cent (plus) of all employees) been experiencing such a strong decline? What has been the differential impact of enterprise bargaining on the two sectors (manufacturing versus non-manufacturing)? Is the fact that manufacturing has declined in relative importance a contributing factor to its experience of rising lockouts? Have lockouts occurred mainly in firms experiencing financial difficulty (a not unusual situation for firms in a declining industry Declining Industry
An industry where growth is either negative or is not growing at the broader rate of economic growth. There are many reasons for a declining industry: consumer demand may be steadily evaporating, the depletion of a natural resource may be occurring, or there may )?
It is beyond the scope of this brief commentary piece to address these issues, but they may be areas of research that turn out to be of interest in the future.
Some Concluding Thoughts
Briggs research on lockouts has added considerably to our knowledge of Australia's evolving industrial relations industrial relations
Relations between the management of an industrial enterprise and its employees.
the relations between management and workers environment. So far as one is aware, his work represents the first systematic and detailed analysis of lockouts for Australia. It would be of interest to other researchers in the field to have access, some time in the future, to a more detailed (say annual) break up of the data upon which Briggs' results are based. This might facilitate a wider analysis of the data, and contribute to a broadening of the discussion.
The commentary in this paper has sought to view Briggs' findings on lockout lockout, intentional closing up of a company, factory, or shop by an employer to prevent employees from working during a strike or labor dispute. The term lockout numbers in a broader historical context. As a result of this exercise, lockouts are seen to be a small fraction of total disputes of past years when total levels of industrial disputes had been relatively high and problematic. As Briggs notes, more than once: 'lockouts are still rare'. Some commentators, it seems, have not quite grasped this point. While the proportional rise in days lost due to lockouts has been very large in the manufacturing sector, the decline in lockouts in the non-manufacturing sector also warrants noting. Perhaps future research may shed light on the reasons for these stark differences.
Table 1: Working Days Lost Due per Thousand Employees Annual Average for Indicated Decade Period Dispute Rate * Dispute Rate Index ** 1969-73 509 75 1974-78 680 100 1979-83 577 85 1984-88 237 35 1989-93 177 26 1994-98 87 13 1999-03 57 8 * Working days lost due to disputes per thousand employees. ** Index 1974-78 = 100 Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Industrial Disputes, Cat. No. 6321.0 various issues, ABS Labour Force Australia, Cat. No. 6202.0 various issues and AusStat related spreadsheets. Table 2: Working Days Lost Due to Strikes and Lockouts (Thousands) Period All Industries Manufacturing Strikes L-outs Total Strikes L-outs Total (c) (b) (a) (f) (e) (d) 1994-98 2989.9 48.6 3038.5 609.3 18.7 628.0 1999-03 2005.8 205.7 2211.5 536.4 194.5 730.9 % -33 323 -27 -12 940 16 change Non-Manufacturing Period Strikes L-outs Total (g) (h) (i) 1994-98 2380.6 29.9 2410.5 1999-03 1469.4 11.2 1480.6 % -38 -63 -39 change Notes: (a) ABS: Industrial Disputes, Australia, 6321.0.55.001, Table 2a (Industrial disputes during the period, Working days lost), AusStat. (b) Briggs (2004a, Table 1). For 1994-98 lockouts are 1.6% of total disputes, for 1999-03 lockouts are 9.3% of total disputes (c) Calculated by subtracting Lockouts (b) from Total (a) (d) As for (a) (e) Briggs (2004a, Table 2) (f) Calculated by subtracting Lockouts (e) from Total (d) (g) Calculated by subtracting Strikes (f) from Strikes (c) (h) Calculated by subtracting lockouts (e) from Lockouts (b) (i) Calculated by subtracting Total (d) from Total (a)
(1) For example, consider the commentary by the Liquor liquor /li·quor/ (lik´er) (li´kwor) pl. liquors, liquo´res [L.]
1. a liquid, especially an aqueous solution containing a medicinal substance.
2. , Hospitality & Miscellaneous Union (LHMU LHMU Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union (Australia)
LHMU Ladies' Home Mission Union (UK) , 2004). The union website notes, among other things, that: 'Dr Briggs looked at the frequency of lockouts over 10 years and found employer lockouts accounted for 57% of all disputes between 1998 and 2003 ...' (LMHU, 2004, italics added). The actual percentage according to Briggs work is 2 per cent, not 57 per cent (and the period was between 1999 and 2003, not 1998 and 2003). See also Industry Search (2004), Workers Online (2004) and Hovenden (2004) for similar misreadings of Briggs
(2) See OnLine Catholics (2004) which observes that: 'Archbishop Cardinal Patrick Francis Moran Patrick Francis Cardinal Moran (16 September 1830 – 16 August 1911) was the third Archbishop of Sydney.
An Irishman born at Leighlinbridge, County Carlow, Ireland, he died an Australian at Manly, Sydney. ... became an outspoken supporter of striking maritime workers [during the 1890s]. As the story goes, striking workers gave him three cheers as they marched passed Sydney's St Mary's Cathedral'. The commentary goes on to suggest, albeit obliquely o·blique
a. Having a slanting or sloping direction, course, or position; inclined.
b. Mathematics Designating geometric lines or planes that are neither parallel nor perpendicular.
2. , that today's Catholics similarly need to support today's workers as '... it's a fact that individual employees have less bargaining power than employers [...] and arguing eases on behalf of workers [...] fits well with the Catholic social teaching of ensuring the bargaining position bargaining position n to be in a strong/weak bargaining position → estar/no estar en una posición de fuerza para negociar
bargaining position n of all parties is as equal as possible'.
(3) OnLine Catholics (2004) observes that: 'Prior to 1993, Australia experienced mainly high numbers of very short strikes (usually to activate compulsory Wikipedia does not currently have an encyclopedia article for .
You may like to search Wiktionary for "" instead.
To begin an article here, feel free to [ edit this page], but please do not create a mere dictionary definition. conciliation conciliation: see mediation. and arbitration) and lockouts were rare, according to ... Dr Chris Briggs. [...] But over the past six years the situation has changed. Briggs says lockouts are now on the rise, strikes are at historic lows and employers are responsible for most of Australia's long-running industrial disputes'. There are at least two problems with this train of thought. First, it leaves the impression that the average duration of disputes has increased because of long-lasting lockouts. This is not the case. The average duration of disputes (i.e. strikes plus lockouts) during the decade ended 2003 was 1.61 days; for the preceding decade it was marginally higher at 1.79 days. A second problem with the commentary piece is the linking of lockouts in recent years with lockouts during the 1890s (see also endnote See footnote. 2). In essence there are few if any similarities in the scale of, or circumstances CIRCUMSTANCES, evidence. The particulars which accompany a fact.
2. The facts proved are either possible or impossible, ordinary and probable, or extraordinary and improbable, recent or ancient; they may have happened near us, or afar off; they are public or surrounding, the lockouts (and strikes) during these two periods. The duration and impact of the strikes and lockouts of the 1890s were much greater than what has recently been experienced. Total disputes in recent years have been at record low levels. Total disputes during the 1890s were at record high levels (Coghlan, 1918; Patmore, 1991). Also, the general economic environment of the 1890s bore no resemblance Resemblance may refer to:
1. A memorizing process using routine or repetition, often without full attention or comprehension: learn by rote.
2. Mechanical routine. is estimated to have risen from 4 per cent to 19 per cent. [OECD OECD: see Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. , Economic Outlook (various) and Withers withers
the region over the backline where the neck joins the thorax and where the dorsal margins of the scapulae lie just below the skin.
see fistulous withers. et al. (1987)].
(4) The dispute rate for the 1970s is not the highest in Australia's history. The dispute rate during the half-decade ended 1920 was almost thrice thrice
1. Three times.
2. In a threefold quantity or degree.
3. Archaic Extremely; greatly. that of the half-decade ended 1978. The half-decade ended 2003 experienced a dispute rate that is about 3 per cent that of the half-decade ended 1920; the corresponding lockout rate is 0.3 per cent that of the half-decade ended 1920.
(5) Briggs (2004a, p.108) observes that 'Manufacturing, along with education, health and community services are the only two industries in which working days lost to labour disputes increased in the second half-decade of enterprise bargaining, as working days lost across all industries fell by almost fifty per cent ...'. The bases upon which two of these calculations were made is unclear. Table 2 in this paper has all industry disputes declining by 27 per cent rather than declining by 'almost fifty percent. Also education, health and community services disputes fell in the second half-decade by 13 per cent from 555 to 480 thousand. The number of lockouts by industry category is also unclear. The tally of lockouts in Briggs's Table 2 is 83 for 1999-03, but the tally of lockouts in Figure 1 is, so far as can be made out, around 72.
Briggs, C. (2004a), 'The Return of the Lockout in Australia: a Profile of Lockouts since the Decentralisation n. 1. same as decentralization.
Noun 1. decentralisation - the spread of power away from the center to local branches or governments
spreading, spread - act of extending over a wider scope or expanse of space or time of Bargaining', Australian Bulletin of Labour, vol. 30, pp. 101-112.
Briggs, C. (2004b), 'Lockout Law in Australia: Into the Mainstream', acirrt working paper 95, University of Sydney The University of Sydney, established in Sydney in 1850, is the oldest university in Australia. It is a member of Australia's "Group of Eight" Australian universities that are highly ranked in terms of their research performance. .
Coghlan, T.A. (1918), Labour and Industry in Australia, Vol. 4, Macmillan, South Melbourne This is a disambiguation page. South Melbourne may refer to
Hovenden, D. (2004), 'Locking down on Lock Outs', Human Resources The fancy word for "people." The human resources department within an organization, years ago known as the "personnel department," manages the administrative aspects of the employees. , Accessed 06.01.2005 at: http://www.humanresourcesmagazine.com.au /articles/31/0C028231.asp?Type=61&Category=933
Industry Search (2004), 'Employers not unions responsible for long IR disputes', 1 October 2004. Accessed 06.01.2005 at: http://www.industrysearch.co.nz/news/viewrecord.asp?ID=15320&SearchField=
Liquor, Hospitality & Miscellaneous Union (LHMU, 2004), 'Employer lockouts cause longest & worst disputes', 3 October 2004, Accessed 06.01.2005 at: http://www.lhmu.org.au/lhmu/news/1096616143_30689.html
OnLine Catholics (2004), Mitre and Power part 1: 'Catholics at the coalface', OnLine Catholics An Independent e Journal, Issue 25, Accessed 06.01.2005 at: http://onlinecatholics.com.au/issue25/print.php?page=all
Oxnam, D. W. (1953), 'Strikes in Australia', Economic Record, vol 29, pp 73-89.
Oxnam, D. W. (1975), 'The Incidence of Strikes in Australia' in J. E. Isaac and J. W. Ford (eds), Australian Industrial Relations: Readings, 2nd Edition, Sun Books, Melbourne.
Patmore, G. (1991), Australian Labour History, Longman Cheshire, Melbourne.
Walsh, K. (1983), Strikes in Europe and the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. : Measurement and Incidence, Frances Pinter Frances Pinter was the first woman to create her own publishing company in the United Kingdom. Pinter Publishers focussed on the social sciences. She also founded the environmental studies imprint Belhaven Press and acquired the humanities imprint University of Leicester Press. , London.
Withers, G., Endres, A. M. and Perry, L. J. (1987), 'Australian Historical Statistics: Labour Statistics', Source Papers in Economic History, Paper No.7, December 1985, the Australian National University Australian National University, located in Canberra and state-sponsored, founded 1946 as Australia's only completely research-oriented university. Originally limited to graduate studies, it expanded in 1960, merging with Canberra University College (est. 1929). .
Workers Online (2004), 'Kev Cooks the Books', Workers Online, Issue No 240, 1 October 2004, Accessed 06.01.2005 at: http://workers.labor.net.au/240/news1_awas.html
L. J. Perry, School of Finance and Economics, University of Technology, Sydney