Industrial Action

The Office of National Statistics have released figures which show that the number of working days lost to industrial action is the highest it has been since the 1990's.

Last year 1.39 million working days were lost due to strike action. This is the largest figure since the last recession of the year 1990.

The 1.39 million figure is considerably raised from the 2010 figure which saw ninety two separate labour disputes compared to last years one hundred and forty nine. When these disputes are multiplied by the sometimes thousands who took part in a strike action its easy to see the huge impact on productivity that has been made from work disputes.

This year has seen a large number of industrial disputes from health care with the British Medical Association holding a strike that saw doctors only seeing the most serious cases. The Olympic games were also under threat from various unions threatening strikes over issues including pension reform, bonuses and training. Indeed, it was the public sector which was responsible for the most walk outs last year. They took up ninety two per cent of the working days lost. 1.5 million workers were involved in strike action last year. The national dispute over pensions last November saw the largest walk out.

Despite the greater percentage of walk outs occurring in the public sector, the private sector also saw its share of strike action last year. There figure of one hundred and ten working days lost was the highest in the private sector since the year 2004. In both public and private cases the main cause for dispute was over pay. Perhaps unsurprisingly, ninety five per cent of all industrial action last year was attributable to some pay element. Its bad news for employers. From 2007 through to 2010 the number of working days lost due to strikes, and indeed industrial action on the whole, had steadily reduced year on year. These figures, therefore, represent a reversal of that trend. With another four months of this year to go, it will be interesting to see how this years figures fare against the recent trend.

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