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Work stoppages

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment compiles data annually about work stoppages.

Work stoppage information is used as an indicator of the state of industrial relations in New Zealand.

Work stoppages include strikes (action initiated by unions) and lockouts (action initiated by employers), compiled from the record of strike or lockout forms submitted to MBIE under section 98 of the Employment Relations Act 2000.

Work stoppage information focuses particularly on the economic impact of events such as strikes and lockouts, and does not cover forms of industrial unrest such as authorised stopwork meetings, strike notices, protest marches and public rallies.

Annual work stoppages

The table below shows information about work stoppages from 2005 to 2020.

Calendar year Number of stoppages Number of employees involved Person-days of work lost Estimated loss in wages and salaries $(million)
2005    60  17,752 30,028 4.8
2006 42 10,079 27,983 5.2
2007 31 4,090 11,439 1.9
2008 23 C C C
2009 32 8,951 14,088 2.4
2010 17 6,394 6,285 Unknown
2011 12 2,098 4,850 1.0
2012 10 5,179 78,589 13.6
2013 6 270 483 0.12
2014 13 1,564 1,448 0.3
2015 5 1,845 392.5 Unknown 
2016 3 430 195 Unknown
2017 6 421 370 0.72
2018 143 11,109 192 1.24
2019 159 53,771 142,670 9.18
2020 112 595 613 0.12
C - confidential
Source: Statistics New Zealand and MBIE

Number of work stoppages 2005 to 2020

Graph showing number of work stoppages each year from 2005 to 2020

Available statistics

Please note that work stoppage data provided to MBIE may not be representative of complete work stoppage information:

  • Under legislation, MBIE relies on employers to provide any or all of the relevant data through this process.
  • Organisations with multiple offices who took action individually (eg different days or office locations) have been counted separately.
  • Some of the notices only report on one or two people striking. However, not all strike notices include all data and employee numbers have been omitted where organisations have advised it is too difficult to count all staff who were involved in taking action.
  • The count also includes partial strikes. For example, situations where employees perform their role but refuse to wear a uniform, or only carry out selected duties.

Work stoppages are classified by industry, institutional sector (private or public), region, cause, method of dispute resolution (how the dispute was resolved), and method of achieving a return to work.

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Page last revised: 17 December 2020

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