Industrial action is no longer the threat it was for employers, particularly in the private sector, but trade unions are finding new ways to put employers under pressure, according to new research by the CIPD.
The CIPD’s Managing Employee Relations in difficult times report highlights national figures that show the average number of days lost each year due to industrial action has been under 1 million over the last twenty years, compared to 12.9 million in the 1970's and 7.2 million in the 1980's. The great majority of days lost each year have been in the public sector (92% in 2011) and over half of all days lost have been for one day only. However, although the number of stoppages has reduced dramatically this does not mean that industrial conflict has gone away. The report highlights the changing nature of industrial action and the tactics now being deployed by trade unions keen to get their messages across. These include: (i) ballots, and threats of ballots, for industrial action, used as a tool to persuade employers to negotiate; (ii) street demonstrations, with trade unions making common cause with other community or political groups; and (iii) threats to damage an employer's reputation or brand, which can be quite powerful.
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