Under Ontario labour law, an employer can refuse to let its employees continue to perform their jobs. Obviously, they are not paid when locked out, nor are they eligible for government Employment Insurance payments. A lockout can only happen during formal collective bargaining. It is a tactic typically used to pressure the union into giving up or watering down contract rights.

A lockout is not a strike. For a strike to be “legal,” the union’s members must conduct a secret ballot vote that authorizes the union to call a walkout. Workers have no say in a lockout but can picket in opposition. Only the employer can decide to end a lockout.