South African labour affairs are in a volatile state. Conflicting rights and interests as well as the balancing of these rights and interests are contributing to this state of affairs. In recent years, the contentious issues of workers' right to use their economic power to put pressure on employers and employers' recourse to lock-out and replacement labour have come under the spotlight again. Prolonged, violent and unprotected strikes have raised the question whether our industrial relations framework should be revisited, and have complicated matters even further. The question whether employers may use replacement labour and have recourse to lock-outs when an impasse exists during wage negotiations is considered in the context of the adversarial collective bargaining framework in South Africa.