Belfast Telegraph

322,000 working days lost to industrial disputes in 2016

The number of days lost to industrial disputes almost doubled last year, partly as a result of the row between junior doctors and the Government, new figures show.

The Office for National Statistics reported that 322,000 working days were lost in 2016 compared with 170,000 the previous year.

Despite the increase, the total was the eighth lowest since records began in 1891.

The junior doctors' dispute over new contracts in England accounted for 129,000 lost working days, 40% of the total.

There were 154,000 workers involved in disputes last year, higher than the record low of 81,000 in 2015 but still low by historical levels.

The North East and London had the most working days lost per 1,000 employees.

The ONS said the amount of industrial action has reduced significantly in the last 30 years.

There were 101 separate stoppages last year, five fewer than in 2015, but the number of working days lost per dispute doubled to almost 3,200.

More than 1.5 million workers, including miners, dockers, printers and railwaymen, joined the General Strike in 1926.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "Going on strike is always a last resort when bosses refuse to negotiate or compromise. Strikes are far less common these days and tend to be short.

"With the average annual wage still worth £1,000 less than a decade ago, it is not surprising that many strikes are about fair pay.

"To keep strikes at historic lows, the next government needs to get wages rising, and we need new laws to improve workplace rights and give people more voice at work."

Unite union general secretary Len McCluskey said: "Unite invests the majority of its energies into solving disputes before there are strikes, and 95% of the time we succeed.

"However, as pay depression has continued, workers are understandably getting fed up, in both the public and the private sector, and want to be heard.

"It is an insult to this nation's traditions of justice and fairness that the Conservatives have done their utmost to portray trade unions and their members as 'the enemy within', introducing regressive anti-worker laws to stop people defending themselves. That is not progress, it's giving bad bosses a free ride."

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