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July 4, 2022

Strikes and Lockouts: What’s the Difference?

As UFCW Local 247 members vote this week on a possible strike at BC Superstores and Distribution Centres, we have been getting a lot of questions from members on what happens next. 

As we reported in our recent updates, at the last meeting we had with Loblaw on June 24, 2022, company officials asked your union bargaining committee what the union would do if the new contract offer was turned down. We told the company we would issue strike notice. In response, the company threatened that if the offer was turned down, they would issue notice of a lockout.

Many have been asking what this means. Here are some key points:

A strike and a lock out are both forms of job action and are perfectly legal and regulated under the BC Labour Relations Code.

If a union and employer are unable to reach a collective agreement through regular negotiations, they can turn to job action to put pressure on the other side to resolve the dispute. There are two major kinds of job action available to unions and employers:

-A strike: when a union and the employees put pressure on an employer by not showing up for work (i.e. withdrawing their labour).
OR
-A lockout: when an employer puts pressure on employees by not allowing them to go to work and temporarily closing their operations.

Whether there is a strike or a lockout, UFCW Local 247 members will have the support of their union and will have the chance to picket and receive picket pay. We are still asking those who have not yet registered to please register just in case the vote is NO.

Being on strike or being locked out DOES NOT mean you will lose your job or be laid off. It also does not mean your workplace will be closed permanently. Again, both strikes and lockouts are perfectly legal.

Union strikes and employer lockouts are used to pressure the other side to see things their way. They can be both highly disruptive and highly effective, and almost universally, they are seen as a last resort when unions and employers can’t agree on a new contract.

 If you need further details or clarity on this, please feel free to ask your Union Representative, or visit the BC Labour Relations Board’s website on the topic.


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UFCW 247 acknowledges that our head office is located on the traditional and unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples, specifically the Semiahmoo First Nation.