Australian Bureau of Statistics

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Industrial Disputes
 
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    NAME OF ORGANISATION
    Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)

    OVERVIEW
    Collection of statistics on disputes which involve stoppages of ten working days or more. The statistics are compiled mainly from data obtained from employers on the nature and extent of the dispute. Once all disputes for a month are identified, additional information on the nature and extent of each dispute is obtained through a mail-out/mail-back collection, usually to employers, on the nature and extent of the dispute. Some data, e.g. working days lost in a particular strike, may be imputed. Due to the imputation procedures and the limitations on identification of disputes, the statistics should not be regarded as an exact measure of the extent of industrial disputation.

    PURPOSE
    To collect and disseminate quarterly statistics on the number of disputes, employees involved, working days lost and working days lost per thousand employees in industrial disputes involving stoppages of work of ten working days or more, classified by State, industry, working days lost per employee involved, cause of dispute and reason work resumed.

    SCOPE
    This collection includes all establishments that had industrial disputes which involved stoppages of work of ten days or more within the reference month. Ten working days is equivalent to the amount of ordinary time worked by ten people in one day.

    DATA DETAIL

    Conceptual framework
    Industrial disputes are included within the scope of the ID collection if the work stoppages amount to ten or more working days lost. Ten working days lost is equivalent to the amount of ordinary time which would have been worked, for example, during a stoppage of work by ten employees for one day, or, by 40 workers attending a 2 hour stop work meeting (assuming they worked an 8 hour day). Disputes which involve the equivalent of less than 10 working days lost are excluded.

    The disputes are identified through a range of sources, including media (internet), industrial relations commissions' listings, and contact with employer organisations and trade unions.

    Included in these statistics are unauthorised stopwork meetings, general strikes, sympathetic strikes (e.g. strikes in support of a group of workers already on strike), political or protest strikes, rotating or revolving strikes, unofficial strikes and work stoppages initiated by employers (e.g. lockouts). Excluded from these statistics are work-to-rules, go-slows and bans (e.g. overtime bans). Also excluded are effects of disputes on locations other than where the stoppages occurred, such as stand-downs because of lack of materials, disruption of transport services and power cuts.

    In addition, if all employees involved in an industrial dispute resign, that dispute is deemed to have been resolved and it is excluded from the scope of the collection from the date of the employment termination.

    Main outputs
    Statistics on the number of disputes, employees involved, working days lost and working days lost per thousand employees in industrial disputes involving stoppages of work of ten working days or more classified by State, industry, working days lost per employee involved, cause of dispute and reason work resumed.

    Classifications
    Industry is classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 1993 (cat no. 1292.0). It replaced the Australian Standard Industrial Classification (ASIC) which had been in use for many years. Published data for periods prior to January 1994 for monthly data and December 1994 for annual data have been classified only according to ASIC. All data released electronically are classified using ANZSIC from 1984.

    Data are also classified by State.

    Other classifications unique to the industrial disputes collection include:

    1. Cause of dispute
    2. Working days lost per employee involved
    3. Reason work resumed

    Other concepts (summary)
    Disputes: An industrial dispute is defined as a state of disagreement over an issue or group of issues between an employer and its employees, which results in employees ceasing work. Industrial disputes comprise strikes, which are a withdrawal from work by a group of employees; and lockouts, which are a refusal by an employer or group of employers to permit some or all of their employees to work.

    A dispute affecting several locations is counted as a single dispute if it is organised or directed by the same organisation (e.g. trade union) or person; otherwise it is counted as a separate dispute at each location where it occurred.

    A dispute affecting more than one state and/or industry is counted in each state and/or industry in which it occurred, but only once at for Australia in total and for the total of all industries.

    When there is a return to work between stoppages over the same issue, and the return to work is for less than 2 complete months, the stoppages are counted as a single dispute. When the return to work is for two or more months, the dispute is considered to have ended at the time of the return to work. Should a subsequent stoppage occur, it is counted as a new dispute.

    Due to the 'two month rule' explained above, data relating to disputes which ended in the quarter can not be finalised until two months have elapsed without further industrial action. Consequently the publication of data for disputes which ended during the quarter has been lagged by one quarter.

    Disputes which occurred during the period: Encompasses those disputes which started in a previous period and ended in the reference period or; began and ended in the reference period or; began in the reference period and continued into the next period or; started prior to the reference period and continued past the reference period.

    Disputes which ended during the period: Encompasses those disputes which started in a previous period and ended in the reference period or; began and ended in the reference period.

    Cause of dispute statistics relate to the reported main cause of stoppage of work and not necessarily all causes that may have been responsible for the stoppage of work. For these reasons, the statistics do not reflect the relative importance of all causes of disputes as perceived by both employers and employees. The causes are classified from information supplied by employers and according to standards determined by the International Labour Organisation.

    Disputes are initially classified according to whether a dispute occurred during a process of workplace/enterprise bargaining. A process of workplace/enterprise bargaining refers to the negotiations that take place between an employer and their employees (or their representatives), in reaching an agreement over pay and employment conditions.

    Disputes not related to a process of workplace/enterprise bargaining include disputes relating to award negotiations and disputes relating to the content or application of an existing agreement (and do not seek to amend or terminate the agreement).

    Disputes are then further classified according to the main cause of the dispute. The classifications for Enterprise Bargaining (EB) related disputes are Remuneration; Employment conditions and Other EB related. The classifications for Non-Enterprise Bargaining (Non-EB) related disputes are Remuneration; Employment conditions; Health and safety; Job security; Managerial policy; Union issues and Other non-EB related.

    Employees: Refers to wage and salary earners only. Excluded are persons who are self-employed (e.g. building sub-contractors, owner-drivers of trucks) and employers.

    Employees directly involved: Refers to employees who actually participated in the dispute in order to enforce or resist a demand or to express a grievance.

    Employees indirectly involved: Refers to employees who were stood down at the location where the stoppages occurred, but who were not themselves parties to the dispute. Employees who were stood down at locations other than those where the disputes occurred are excluded.

    Employees newly involved: For a new dispute, comprises all employees who are involved and, for an ongoing dispute, those involved for the first time.

    Total employees involved: Comprises employees newly involved and, for an ongoing dispute, those who continue to be involved. Total employees involved for any period of time is obtained by adding together the number of employees involved in each dispute for the period.

    Working days lost: Refers to working days lost by employees directly and indirectly involved in the dispute.

    Working days lost per employee involved (formerly 'Duration of dispute'): The average number of working days lost per employee involved in the dispute, calculated by dividing the number of working days lost in the dispute by the number of employees involved (both directly and indirectly).

    Working days lost per thousand employees: Working days lost per thousand employees are calculated for a quarterly period by dividing the total number of working days lost in the period by the total number of employees in the Australian labour force in the period (obtained from the ABS Labour Force Survey) and multiplying by 1,000. Labour Force Survey employee estimates are revised every 5 years as a result of the implementation of new population benchmarks from the Census of Population and Housing. As a result, estimates of working days lost per thousand employees are also subject to revision.

    Reason Work Resumed: Relates to the reason for ending the stoppage of work as reported and not necessarily to the reason(s) for settling all matters in dispute. Therefore, they do not reflect the relative importance of the work of various industrial tribunals operating under state and federal legislation. The classification of reason work resumed is Negotiation without intervention of a third party; State legislation; Federal legislation; Pre-determined return to work; Resumption without negotiation; Mediation and Other reasons.

    GEOGRAPHIC DETAIL
    Australia
    New South Wales
    Victoria
    Queensland
    South Australia
    Western Australia
    Tasmania
    Northern Territory
    ACT

    Comments and/or Other Regions


    COLLECTION FREQUENCY
    Monthly

    Frequency comments
    Data is collected monthly for the relevant month.

    COLLECTION HISTORY
    Quarterly from 1913 and monthly from 1970 to 2003. Quarterly statistics released from March quarter 2004, but collection of data from providers remains on a monthly cycle.

    DATA AVAILABILITY
    Yes

    Data availability comments
    From March quarter 2004 onwards, ID statistics are being compiled and released on a quarterly basis, as an electronic publication (cat. no. 6321.0.55.001). Up to December 2003 a monthly printed publication (cat. no. 6321.0) was produced. Data are available on AusStats, ABS Website, ABS@, time series spreadsheets, AEI and as special data services available on request.


    DATE OF LAST UPDATE FOR THIS DOCUMENT
    29/05/2006 06:52 PM



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