Lockout (industry)

When lockout is the temporary exemption for employees from their duty to work by an employer in a labor dispute without continued payment of wages. It is thus typically the response of employers to a strike ( defensive lockout ) and to increase the cost of the strike to the unions, because they have to pay more strike benefits.

The term is the Germanization of the English lock-out came over (after marriam Webster's first appearance in 1854 ) and as the thing itself from the UK mainland.


In addition to the defensive lockout, the lockout attack is described in the literature in which the employers' associations try to turn cause changes in collective agreements.

According to the typing of strikes and lockouts in sympathy, criminal, general lockout or by surface moderate extent by individual, association or face lockout can be distinguished.

A further distinction is that after dissolving of suspended or lockout. When dissolving a lock-out dismissal of the employees concerned without withdrawing at the end of the labor dispute revives the old employment relationship again. In a lockout suspending the employment relationship is suspended only and is automatically resumed.

A distinction is made between cold and hot lockout.

Hot lockout

The hot lockout is in German law a measure of the employer in the labor dispute. It means the temporary exclusion of a number of workers from employment and wage payment, so a setting of the work. She is in practice always a reaction ( a defensive measure ) on a strike. The theoretically conceivable attack lockout is practically non-existent. The admissibility of the lockout is controversial in the jurisprudential and political literature, is in the case law but has long been recognized. The lockout will normally be granted only in the context of the struggle parity.

Cold lockout

With a cold lockout lockout is referred to, in which the operation itself does not produce, as it (possibly even supposedly) is dependent on another operation, which is in a state of hot lockout. This would be the case if a car manufacturer ceases production after a strike at a supplier and then locks out.

The reasoning of the farms

Cold lockouts shall be justified by the fact that further production due to lack of vendor parts is not possible.

The argument of the unions

Among unions is a common opinion that cold lockouts are not absolutely necessary and only arbitrary weaponry to force unions to strike task ("Cost lobe ").

See the unions in cold lockouts a means for employers to increase the cost of a strike. When a strike is in a small supplier factory that produces for many companies, performs a "hot" lockout means that a great extent taken lockouts at the now no longer supplied plants. Thus, also this cold locked-out operations are included with potentially hundreds of thousands of workers in a labor dispute. The aim of the employer be it, the unions, the labor dispute to break fast because only the holding of origin, who runs the hot lockout, strike support to be paid.

The employees who are affected by the cold lockout, receive no financial support from the trade union or the labor ministry and thus exercise pressure on the unions. After a change in the law ( § 116 AFG ) in 1986 cold locked out employees shall be paid no more short-time compensation.

Amendment of § 116 AFG

Increasing outsourcing of tasks (outsourcing ) increased in the 1970s and 1980s, the companies' dependence on their suppliers. The declared strategy of the unions in the early 1980 was therefore to paralyze by gravity strikes in selected supplier companies, entire industries and to protect their own strike fund by the small number of strikers. Employers responded to this strategy with extensive "cold" lockouts of the companies that were unable to work due to lack of precursors.

The employees affected by these lockouts were usually due to the Employment Promotion Act during the lockout unemployment benefits. Thus, the neutrality of the Federal Labour Office, in the opinion of the government was threatened. Because of this, was ( against the fierce resistance of the SPD and trade unions) in 1986 by the Bundestag by the " Law for the Protection of the neutrality of the Federal Labour Office in labor disputes " the revised 116 AFG. Since this amendment, the payment of unemployment benefits to "cold" locked-out workers only under very difficult conditions is possible. The Federal Constitutional Court declared in a judgment of 4 July 1995, this regulation was admissible.

The provisions of § 116 AFG was taken to the status of the Employment Promotion Law in the Social Code on January 1, 1998, § 146 SGB III without any change. Since April 1, 2012, the suspension of unemployment benefit in labor disputes in § 160 SGB III is regulated. The provision has only been adapted for linguistic equality between women and men.

The frequency and scope of lockouts

The scope and frequency of lockouts changed according to the times. In the German Empire lockouts were a widely -applied means of the labor dispute. The later years of high compared to absolute number of lockouts ( and strikes) explained by the fact that at this time strikes were conducted mainly at the corporate level. Accordingly, the number of people affected was relatively low per lockout.

In the Weimar Republic, the labor disputes widened on industries and regions. This was associated with a sharp increase in the number of people affected. The highlight indicates the statistics in 1924, in which 976 936 people were affected in 11,003 farms totaling 392 lockouts and thereby failed 22,775,774 working days.

In the Federal Republic of Germany, the instrument of lockout is only sporadically application. Only in the labor struggles of the 1963, 1971 and 1976 workers were affected to a greater extent of lockouts.

In the era of National Socialism and the GDR lockouts ( and strikes) were forbidden.

Compared to strike lockouts are much less common but last longer and affect more employees.


Until the second half of the 19th century, lockouts did not play a major role. Instruments of employers in labor disputes were instead blacklists, strike fund and the dismissals of strikers and new hires. From the 1870s, first lockouts have survived. Condition were the formation of employers' associations. Lockouts have been made especially in matters of principle and the requirement of general applicability of collective agreements.

A first major lockout took place from February 1873. In the labor dispute in the printing industry ( the translators were paid according to the imputed length of the composed text in dispute was costing. , The union called for the use of the real width of the letters, the employer wanted a uniform width of the " n" start ) became the first rich -wide generally binding collective agreement erstreikt. In this conflict, the lockout of all unionized printer journeyman was. Nevertheless succeeded in the trade unions on March 5, 1873 to achieve the desired collective agreement.

The Maiaussperrungen were a multiple occurrences of criminal lockout in connection with the commemoration of May Day: 8000 dockers, the participants of the ceremony on May 1, 1890, were sanctioned by a penalty lockout from 2 to May 11. In the following years, the procedure was similar. So the next year it 181 Hamburger coppersmiths " the usual 6-8 days "

After the end of the Socialist Law 1890, the number of strikes rose sharply. Correspondingly, the number of lockouts rose, but they were more focused on fundamental issues and the focus was on avoiding unionization in the workplace. By 1903, a wave of lockouts, in 1905 reached a summit began. After the attempts to prevent the organization of trade unions, were not very successful and the SPD achieved gains, the employer changed the strategy: Fewer work stoppages were immediately answered with lockouts to force the unions to their knees. The last major lockout in the empire was the labor dispute in the Commercial Construction Worker 1910.

Situation in Switzerland

Through the Swiss Federal Constitution the right to lock-out in article 28, paragraph 3 of the Constitution is anchored. A lawful lockout then sets two conditions: The lockout must relate to the working relationship, and also must not conflict with obligations to maintain labor peace or to conduct arbitration proceedings. The lockout law is seen systematically a part of content of the fundamental right of freedom of association under Article 28 BV.


  • BAG of 28 January 1955 AP # 1 to Article 9 GG labor dispute
  • BAG of 21 April 1971 AP No. 43 on Article 9 GG labor dispute
  • BAG of 10 June 1980, AP No. 65 on Article 9 GG labor dispute
  • BAG of 26 April 1988 AP No. 84 on Article 9 GG labor dispute
  • BAG of 26 April 1988 No. 101 AP to Article 9 GG labor dispute
  • BAG 7 June 1988, AP # 107 to Article 9 GG labor dispute
  • Federal Constitutional Court of 26 June 1991, AP # 117 to Article 9 GG labor dispute
  • BAG of 11 August 1991 AP No. 124 to Article 9 GG labor dispute
  • BAG of 27 June 1995, DB 1996, 143 Article 9 of the Basic Law to labor dispute

The lockout is illegal under article 29, paragraph 5 of the Hessian constitution.