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Annie Hayes

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A million working days lost to strikes in 2007

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Official statistics reveal that just over a million working days were lost in the UK from 142 stoppages of work arising from labour disputes.

These are the findings of the Office of National Statistics, which show that 96% of these were lost in the public sector.

The figure for 2007 (1,041,100 working days lost) is significantly higher than the 2006 total (754,500). The 2007 total is also higher than the average number of working days lost per year in the 1990s (660,000). However it is considerably lower than the average for both the 1980s (7.2 million) and the 1970s (12.9 million).

By sector, 63% of the working days lost in 2007 were a result of 55 stoppages in transport and 31% of the days lost were from 20 stoppages in public administration. There were also 22 stoppages in manufacturing, which resulted in 15,600 days lost, 44% were from six stoppages in the manufacturing of transport equipment.

On causes, 66% of working days lost in 2007 were due to disputes over pay; this accounted for 50% of all strikes.

Commenting on the figures, David Frost, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “In what is a tough economic climate, the staggering increase in the number of working days being lost to strike action will not come as good news to businesses already operating on tight margins. Industrial disputes have a direct impact on a business’ day to day running and the government needs to work much harder to improve its current handling of industrial relations.”

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Annie Hayes

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