6321.0.55.001 - Industrial Disputes, Australia, Mar 2012 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/06/2012   
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1 Statistics on the number of industrial disputes, working days lost and employees involved in industrial disputes are obtained from the Industrial Disputes (ID) collection.


2 Statistics on 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. 6102.0.55.001), which is available on the ABS web site.


3 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.

4 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; and
  • work stoppages initiated by employers (e.g. lockouts).

5 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.

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


7 A list of organisations whose employees were involved in industrial disputes is compiled monthly. Disputes are identified through a range of sources, including media reports, listings obtained from Fair Work Australia, state industrial relations commissions, and contact with government organisations, businesses, employer associations and trade unions. Although every attempt is made to identify all disputes that occurred in the month, some small disputes may not be identified through the sources available.

8 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.

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

10 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 for Australia in total and for the total of all industries.

11 When there is a return to work between stoppages over the same issue, and the return to work is for less than two 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.

12 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.


13 Data classified by industry is primarily based on the activity of the employees at the location or site where the industrial dispute occurred, with supplementary consideration given to the main industry disrupted by the disputation activity.

14 From March quarter 2009 industry statistics are on the basis of Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 edition. This edition replaces the 1993 edition which has been in use since 1994. The new edition of ANZSIC was developed to provide a more contemporary industrial classification system taking into account issues such as changes in the structure and composition of the economy, changing user demands and compatibility with major international classification standards.

15 Industry data from March quarter 2008 onwards are available on an ANZSIC 2006 basis. Industry data up to December quarter 2008 are available on an ANZSIC 1993 basis.

16 For more information on the new industry classification, refer to Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 (cat. no. 1292.0).

17 Data classified by state/territory is based on the location or site where the industrial dispute occurred. Disputes that occur in Australia's Other Territories (ie. Jervis Bay Territory, and the Territories of Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands) are classified to the State/Territory which holds jurisdiction over industrial relations matters.


18 Estimates from the ID 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.


19 Changes which have affected data comparability over time are discussed in Chapter 26 of Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods (cat. no. 6102.0.55.001).


20 Users may also wish to refer to the following publications which are available from the ABS web site and 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;
  • Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0) - issued monthly; and
  • Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods (cat. no. 6102.0.55.001).


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


22 Some data may be suppressed to prevent disclosure, either directly or by inference, of information relating to individual organisations. These data have been replaced by the symbol ‘np', but are included in totals.