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LEGAL UPDATE – Over 1million days lost to strikes in 2007

Over 1million days lost to strikes in 2007 

The number of days lost through industrial action exceeded 1m last year for only the second time in the last 10 years as the Government suffered a backlash of anger from public sector workers in particular about job cuts and disappointment about below-inflation pay increases. 

According to official figures published by the Office for National Statistics, strikes by postal workers, job centre staff, driving test examiners, Revenue & Customs staff, passport staff and prison officers lifted the number of days lost by 37 per cent to 1.03m. This is the highest level since 2002 when 1.3m days were lost following a spate of one-day strikes by teachers. 

But wile the figures show an increase in days lost, they still demonstrate how the employment relations landscape has changed in the UK in the last 70 years. The number of days lost to strikes in 2007 was well below the average of 12.9m days lost annually during the 1970s and 7.2m in the 1980s. Topping the scale were two particular outbreaks of industrial unrest, i.e. 29m days were lost in 1979 during the “winter of discontent” and 162m days were lost in 1926, which was the year of the General Strike.  

The figures also show that unions and workers have moved away from long stoppages. ‘Short-sharp-shock’ tactics have become far more prevalent with the majority of strikes only lasting for a couple of days at a time.  

The labour market statistics summary can be accessed at:http://www.statistics.gov.uk/pdfdir/lmsuk0208.pdf 

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