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August 2006
Vol. 7, no. 8

Perspectives on Labour and Income

Increased work stoppages
Ernest B. Akyeampong

  • Work stoppages due to strikes and lockouts fell from an annual average of 754 in the 1980s, to 394 in the 1990s, to 319 in the 2000s. The time-loss ratio, which controls for the rise in employee numbers, also reveals an overall declining trend: from an annual average of 541 workdays lost per 1,000 employees in the 1980s, to 233 in the 1990s, to 203 in the 2000s.
  • More recently, however, work stoppages have increased. In 2005 they totalled 261 compared with 221 in 2003. The 2005 stoppages involved 429,000 workers (a five-fold jump from 2003) and cost 4.1 million workdays (almost two and a half times the 2003 figure). Similarly, the time-loss ratio of 301 in 2005 was more than twice the 2003 level.
  • Between 2003 and 2005, unions initiated about 84% of the 743 work stoppages (strikes) and 87% of the 9.1 million resulting lost workdays; the rest were initiated by employers (lockouts).
  • Provincially, Quebec posted the largest share of strikes and lockouts (336 or 45%). At the industry level, approximately 29% of the strikes and lockouts occurred in manufacturing, followed by education, health and social services (21%).

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Ernest B. Akyeampong is with the Labour and Household Surveys Analysis Division. He can be reached at (613) 951-4624 or

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