Belfast Telegraph

Record low numbers of workers taking strike action

The number of workers who took strike action last year reached a record low, official figures show.

A total of 81,000 workers involved in industrial disputes went on strike, the lowest figure since records began in 1893.

Days lost to strikes last year were the second lowest on record despite a number of public sector disputes.

A total of 170,000 days were lost, well down on the figure of 788,000 for 2014, said the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The lowest annual figure since records began was 2005 when there were 157,000 days lost.

Transport and storage, including the railways, had most days lost to labour disputes last year at 60,200.

ONS labour market statistician Nick Palmer said: "The main reason that 2014 had a higher figure than last year was that it saw a number of large scale public sector strikes that were not repeated in 2015. In all 81,000 workers went on strike in 2015, the lowest figure since records began in 1893."

Northern Ireland had the highest rate of days lost at 21 per 1,000 employees, followed by London at 15, while the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, the East Midlands, the West Midlands and the East all had rates of one day.

The biggest number of days lost last year were in disputes over pay at 71% of the total, followed by rows over redundancies.

Most disputes lasted no more than three days, with 30% being just one day.

The percentage of disputes lasting more than one day was noticeably higher in 2015 than in recent years at 70%, compared with 54% in 2014 and 37% in 2013.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "These figures show that going on strike is always a last resort when your employer won't negotiate and won't compromise. Strikes are far less common these days and tend to be short.

"Most strikes are about people demanding fair pay, which is unsurprising given that real wages have fallen off a cliff in the past decade.

"Good industrial relations depend on fair wages and decent rights at work. The new Prime Minister has spoken about raising wages - now it's time to live up to that promise."

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