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Guide to Labour Disputes

Released: 14 November 2012 Download PDF

Abstract

The Labour Disputes Inquiry collects information on the number of working days lost and workers involved in strike action in the UK on a monthly basis. The survey is different to most other business surveys conducted by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in that it is conducted on a voluntary basis and is a list of all known strikes in the period.

More detail

The Labour Disputes Inquiry (124.3 Kb Pdf) collects information on the number of working days lost and workers involved in strike action in the UK on a monthly basis. The survey is different to most other business surveys conducted by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in that it is conducted on a voluntary basis and is a list of all known strikes in the period.

The survey tries to record all strike action that has taken place, except for those disputes involving fewer than ten workers or lasting less than one day. Disputes are picked up from reports in the mainstream media and newspapers, with news and union websites also being a primary source of information. Where possible, the data are collected directly from the employer involved in the dispute. There are also centralised returns from large companies, public bodies and trade unions.

The Labour Disputes Survey collects data on the number of working days lost and the number of workers involved in strike action from all UK companies who have been involved in strike action. However, lack of press coverage generally means that small disputes are not always included.

Data from the Labour Disputes Survey are used by a wide range of users, both internal and external customers. The figures are used by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) to provide ministers with a monthly brief on labour disputes and also by HM Treasury and the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS).

Outside government, the data attract interest from researchers, local authorities, development corporations, academics and private industry. In accordance with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) 'Resolution on Strikes and Lockouts: 1993', the UK provides the ILO with data covering working days lost, number of workers involved and the number of stoppages by industry for each calendar year.

The Labour Disputes Survey, on a voluntary basis, requests the minimum amount of detail to produce the analyses required by users. The overwhelming majority of firms rarely experience labour disputes stoppages and consequently do not have formal mechanisms for recording the data.

Information is not available on the completeness of coverage so, consequently, it is not known what proportion of all stoppages are included in the statistics. Data are not collected for those disputes involving fewer that 10 workers or lasting less than half a day. However, data are collected if 100 working days are lost due to a single dispute, regardless of the amount of workers involved.

The Labour Disputes Monthly Provisional Results are published six weeks after the reference period and the previous period’s data are revised if necessary. A further (final) revision is also conducted when the annual results are published in March if additional data have been made available. Revisions are generally very small.
The time lag between publication and the reference period to which the data refer are as follows:

  • monthly results release: six weeks after the reference period

  • annual results release: 12 weeks after the reference period

  • annual in-depth analysis: six months after the reference period

Data on UK labour disputes are held going back as far as 1891. Analysis can be provided on various combinations, for example, by industry groups, by Standard Statistical Region from 1958 to 1995, by former Government Office Region (GOR) from 1996 and by cause (from 1959). Data are also published on a public/private split, with data available back to 1996.

Background notes

  1. Enquiries relating to labour market statistics should be directed to Richard Clegg, Labour Market Division, Office for National Statistics.

    Phone +44 (0)1633 455400

    Email labour.market@ons.gsi.gov.uk

  2. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

Supporting information

Further information

Interpreting Labour Market Statistics - The purpose of this article is to help users of labour market statistics interpret the statistics and highlight some common misunderstandings.
Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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