6321.0.55.001 - Industrial Disputes, Australia, Sep 2018 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 06/12/2018   
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For information on the institutional environment of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.


The Industrial Disputes (ID) collection produces quarterly statistics on the number of industrial disputes, employees involved in industrial disputes, working days lost and working days lost per thousand employees where at least ten working days are lost as a result of the dispute. The following types of industrial disputes are within the scope of the ID collection:

    • 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 (i.e. strikes which occur when workers at different locations take turns to stop work)
    • unofficial strikes
    • work stoppages initiated by employers (e.g. lockouts).

Excluded from the scope of the collection 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.

Statistics for industrial disputes which occurred during the quarter are available by industry and state. Statistics for industrial disputes which ended during the quarter are available by cause of dispute, working days lost per employee involved and reason work resumed.


Industrial disputes data for disputes which occurred during the quarter are released approximately nine weeks after the end of the reference quarter, with the exception of estimates for each December quarter which, due to the Christmas and New Year period, are released approximately 10 weeks after the reference quarter. The release of data for disputes which ended during the quarter is lagged by one quarter. Data relating to disputes which ended in the quarter cannot be finalised until two months have elapsed without further industrial action on the same issue taking place.


Each month, a list is compiled of organisations whose employees were involved in industrial disputes. Disputes are identified primarily through listings obtained from industrial relations commissions and media reports. The Industrial Disputes collection is a census of all in-scope disputes, although some small disputes may not be identified through the sources available. Due to the limitations on identification of disputes, the statistics should not be regarded as an exact measure of the extent of industrial disputation.

Estimates from the Industrial Disputes collection are subject to non-sampling error. Non-sampling error arises from inaccuracies in collecting, recording and processing the data. Every effort is made to minimise non-sampling error by the careful design of questionnaires and by efficient data collection and processing procedures.

Revisions may be made to quarterly data as a result of disputes being identified after release of data for that quarter or as a result of correcting errors in previously reported data.


The Industrial Disputes collection was compiled on a quarterly basis from 1913 and on a monthly basis from 1970 to 2003. Quarterly statistics have been released from March quarter 2004, but collection of data from providers remains on a monthly cycle. The monthly data have been converted to a quarterly basis back to 1985.

Revised classifications for 'Cause of dispute' and 'Reason work resumed' (formerly 'Method of settlement') were introduced in the March quarter 2004. In addition, the 'Duration of dispute' classification was renamed 'Working days lost per employee involved'. Statistics based on these classifications are available from March quarter 2003 onwards.

The ABS uses standard classifications to facilitate data comparability across statistical collections. In the Industrial Disputes collection employers are classified to industry using the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 (cat. no. 1292.0).

Working days lost per thousand employees are calculated using estimates of the total number of employees in the Australian labour force obtained from the ABS Labour Force Survey. Labour Force Survey employee estimates are revised quarterly, through quarterly rebenchmarking. As a result, estimates of working days lost per thousand employees are also subject to revision.


Industrial Disputes, Australia (cat. no. 6321.0.55.001) contains Explanatory Notes and a Glossary which provide further information about data sources, terminology and other technical aspects of the series.


Industrial Disputes, Australia (cat. no. 6321.0.55.001) is available from the ABS website and includes downloadable Excel data files for time series data.

For further information about these and related statistics, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070. The ABS Privacy Policy outlines how the ABS will handle any personal information that you provide to us.