6321.0 - Industrial Disputes, Australia, Dec 2003  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 18/03/2004  Ceased
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1 The statistics in this publication relate to disputes which involved stoppages of work of ten working days or more at the establishments where the stoppages occurred. Ten working days is equivalent to the amount of ordinary time worked by ten people in one day. For example, 3,000 workers on strike for 2 hours would be counted as 750 working days lost (assuming they usually work an 8 hour day).

2 The statistics of working days lost relate to the losses due to industrial disputes only (see the definition of 'Disputes' in the Glossary). Effects of disputes on other establishments, such as stand-downs because of lack of materials, disruption of transport services and power cuts, are not included.


3 These statistics on industrial disputes are based on all disputes identified which occurred during the period. Disputes are identified through a range of sources, including newspaper and Internet reports, listings obtained from industrial relations commissions, contact with government, businesses, employer organisations and trade unions. Although every attempt is made to identify all disputes that occurred in a period, some small disputes may not have been identified through the sources available.

4 Once a dispute is identified, additional information is obtained, usually from employers, on the nature and extent of the dispute. Particulars of some stoppages, e.g. working days lost in a particular strike, may have been imputed. Due to the limitations of identifying disputes and imputation procedures, the statistics in this publication should not be regarded as an exact measure of the extent of industrial disputation.

5 Measures of industrial disputes are based on concepts and definitions outlined in international guidelines adopted by the 1993 International Conference of Labour Statisticians. Descriptions of the underlying concepts of Australia's industrial disputes statistics, and the sources and methods used in compiling these estimates, are presented in Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods (cat. no. 6102.0), which is also available on the ABS web site.


6 The following types of industrial disputes are included:

  • unauthorised stopwork meetings
  • unofficial strikes
  • sympathetic strikes (e.g. strikes in support of a group of workers already on strike)
  • political or protest strikes
  • general strikes
  • work stoppages initiated by employers (e.g. lockouts)
  • rotating or revolving strikes (i.e. strikes which occur when workers at different locations take turns to stop work).

7 Excluded from these statistics are work-to-rules, go-slows, bans (e.g. overtime bans) and sit-ins. In addition, industrial disputes in which all employees resign are deemed to have been resolved. Statistics on those disputes will cease to be collected from the date of the employees' resignations.


8 The basis for the calculation of working days lost per thousand employees was changed in the January 1995 edition of this publication to use estimates of employees taken from the ABS Labour Force Survey only. Estimates have been recalculated on this basis for each 12 month period back to December 1990 and are available on request. For the January 1987 to December 1994 editions of this publication, estimates of employees were taken predominantly from the ABS Survey of Employment and Earnings.

9 The basis for the calculation of the number of disputes was changed in the November 1992 publication and the series revised back to September 1991. Before September 1991, disputes affecting more than one industry and/or State were counted as a separate dispute in each industry and State and in the Australian total. From September 1991 onwards, a dispute affecting more than one industry and/or State is counted once in each industry and/or State, but only once at the broader industry and Australia level. The reason for the change was to align the method of counting the number of industrial disputes with the International Labour Organisation guidelines. This change does not affect the estimates of employees involved or working days lost.


10 Industry information on a monthly basis from January 1994 and on an annual basis from December 1994 is classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) - for more details refer to Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification, 1993 (cat.no.1292.0) available from the ABS web site.


11 Inaccuracies may occur because of imperfections in information provided by respondents or in processing by the ABS. Although considerable care is taken in questionnaire design, in the instructions given to respondents, and in editing the returns, these inaccuracies may occur in any enumeration, regardless of the collection method.


12 Users may also wish to refer to the following publications which are available from ABS Bookshops:
  • Australian Labour Market Statistics, (cat. no. 6105.0) - issued quarterly
  • Employee Earnings, Benefits and Trade Union Membership, Australia (cat.no.6310.0) - issued annually
  • Employee Earnings and Hours, Australia (cat.no.6306.0) - issued biennially
  • Employment Arrangements and Superannuation, Australia (cat. no. 6361.0)
  • Labour Force, Australia (cat.no. 6202.0) - issued monthly
  • Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2001 (cat.no. 6102.0) - available from the ABS web site.

13 Current publications and other products released by the ABS are listed in the Catalogue of Publications and Products (cat. no. 1101.0). The Catalogue is available from any ABS office or the ABS web site. The ABS also issues a daily Release Advice on the web site which details products to be released in the week ahead.


14 As well as the statistics included in this and related publications, the ABS may have other relevant data available on request. Inquiries should be made to the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.


15 Where estimates have been rounded, discrepancies may occur between sums of the component items and totals.