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Cath Everett

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1/3 of unionised workplaces expect a strike over next year


Just over three quarters of employers believe the UK is moving into a new and more unstable era of industrial relations, with a third of those that recognise a union expecting their workers to go on strike over the next 12 months.

According to an online poll among 371 HR practitioners undertaken by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, some 16% said they had been affected by industrial action over the last year, a fall from 26% in 2008.
But almost half of public sector respondents expected to be subject to strike action in the year ahead compared with 18% in services companies, 11% in manufacturing and production industries and 5% in not-for-profit organisations.
Three out of five of those surveyed indicated that they recognised one or more trade union, rising to 97% of public sector bodies and falling to only 31% of private sector employers.
The issues considered most likely to spark industrial unrest were pay (44%), redundancy (36%) and pensions (33%). But maintaining and developing high levels of employee engagement were felt to be the most likely (65%) and most desirable (59%) means of averting action.
The report entitled ‘Employment Relations’ also revealed that, among those organisations where unions were recognised, they exerted considerable influence (63%). But when asked if such influence had grown or waned over recent times, a positive net balance of employers (of 6%) across all sectors believed it had weakened.
While 45% of respondents said unions sometimes (43%), usually (37%) or always (8%) took a constructive approach when major change was proposed, the most frequently cited barrier to effective partnership was their lack of understanding of the business (37%).
Other issues were lack of trust on both sides (35%) and national policies that had interfered with local representatives’ ability to build effective working relationships with management (29%).


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