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Industrial Disputes, Australia

The number of disputes (strikes or lockouts), employees involved and working days lost; cause of dispute; duration; and the reason work resumed

Reference period
December 2020
Released
11/03/2021

Key statistics

In the December quarter 2020:

  • 32 disputes occurred.
  • 2,600 employees were involved and 16,500 working days lost.
  • disputes occurred in 5 industries and in 7 states.

During the year ended December 2020, there were 77 disputes and a total of 33,500 working days lost.

 QuarterYear ended
September 2020December 2020December 2019December 2020
Number of disputes    
 Commenced in period (no.)192713571
 Total (no.)213214777
Employees involved    
 Newly involved ('000)4.22.251.610.2
 Total ('000)4.32.653.211.4
Working days lost ('000)11.716.564.433.5

Overview

In the December quarter 2020, there were:

  • 32 disputes, 11 more than from the previous quarter.
  • 2,600 employees involved, a decrease from 4,300 in the previous quarter.
  • 16,500 working days lost, an increase from 11,700 in the previous quarter.

Year ended estimates:

  • 77 disputes occurred, 70 less than in the previous year.
  • 33,500 working days were lost, 48% less than the previous year.
1 Industrial disputes which occurred during the quarter
 Number of disputesEmployees involved 
 Commenced in periodTotalNewly involvedTotalWorking days lost
 no.no.'000'000'000
December Quarter 2018536225.628.830.9
March Quarter 201932447.89.316.6
June Quarter 2019344418.820.217.6
September Quarter 2019354316.817.517.8
December Quarter 201934388.38.812.4
March Quarter 202017232.94.03.9
June Quarter 20208110.91.11.5
September Quarter 202019214.24.311.7
December Quarter 202027322.22.616.5

Long-term trends

The level of industrial disputation over recent years is considerably lower than in the 1980's and prior decades.

Industry

In the December quarter, disputes occurred in five industries. More than seven in ten (76%) working days lost were in the Transport, postal and warehousing industry.

2 Industrial disputes which occurred during the quarter, industry
 September Quarter 2020December Quarter 2020
Working days lostWorking days lost per thousand employeesWorking days lostWorking days lost per thousand employees
'000no.'000no.
Mining    
 Coal mining----
 Other mining----
Manufacturing    
 Metal product etc (a)--npnp
 Other manufacturing1.42.82.34.6
Construction0.70.80.91.0
Transport, postal and warehousing9.517.712.421.6
Education and training; Health care and social assistance----
Other industries (a)0.1-npnp
All industries11.71.016.51.4

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
np not available for publication but included in totals where applicable, unless otherwise indicated
a. See Glossary - Industry - for details of industries included.

States and territories

Disputes occurred in seven states and territories in the December quarter, with more than seven in ten (75%) working days lost occurring in New South Wales.

3 Industrial disputes which occurred during the quarter, states and territories
 September Quarter 2020December Quarter 2020
Working days lostWorking days lost per thousand employeesWorking days lostWorking days lost per thousand employees
'000no.'000no.
NSW6.01.712.43.3
Vic.3.61.22.10.7
Qld1.40.60.70.3
SAnpnp0.50.6
WAnpnp0.60.5
Tas.npnpnpnp
NT----
ACT--npnp
Australia11.71.016.51.4

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
np not available for publication but included in totals where applicable, unless otherwise indicated

Cause of dispute

Most industrial disputes are Enterprise Bargaining (EB) related. Over the past 10 years, disputes over employment conditions have generally been the most prevalent. 

EB related issues were the cause of 69% of disputes (11 of 16) which ended in the September quarter 2020.

4 Cause of disputes which ended during the quarter
 June Quarter 2020September Quarter 2020
Total Number of DisputesTotal Employees InvolvedWorking days LostTotal Number of DisputesTotal Employees InvolvedWorking days Lost
no.'000'000no.'000'000
Enterprise Bargaining (EB) related     
 Remuneration---40.30.4
 Employment conditions (EB)30.42.770.96.4
 Other EB related------
Non-EB related      
 Remuneration------
 Employment conditions------
 Health and safety3npnp2npnp
 Job security------
 Managerial policy10.1-10.1-
 Union issues2npnp2npnp
 Other Non EB related------
Total91.13.3161.87.5

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
np not available for publication but included in totals where applicable, unless otherwise indicated

Working days lost

Working days lost is a measure of the length of a dispute, relative to the number of employees involved.

Of the 16 disputes which ended in the September quarter, half lasted for a day or less. These disputes had:

  • 800 total employees involved; and
  • 500 working days lost.
5 Working days lost for disputes which ended during the quarter
 June Quarter 2020September Quarter 2020
Total Number of DisputesTotal Employees InvolvedWorking days LostTotal Number of DisputesTotal Employees InvolvedWorking days Lost
no.'000'000no.'000'000
Up to and including 1 day6npnp80.80.5
Over 1 day and up to including 2 days---1npnp
Over 2 and less than 5 days2npnp3npnp
5 and less than 10 days---2npnp
10 days and over10.12.42npnp
Total91.13.3161.87.5

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
np not available for publication but included in totals where applicable, unless otherwise indicated

Reason work resumed

The reason work resumed relates to the last day of action taken. Resumption of work can occur without resolution to the issues that triggered the dispute. 

There was a pre-determined return to work for 44% of disputes (7 of 16) which ended in the September quarter 2020. 

6 Reason work resumed for disputes which ended during the quarter
 June Quarter 2020September Quarter 2020
Total Number of DisputesTotal Employees InvolvedWorking days LostTotal Number of DisputesTotal Employees InvolvedWorking days Lost
no.'000'000no.'000'000
Negotiation without intervention of a third party1npnp2npnp
State legislation---20.20.1
Federal legislation---2npnp
Pre-determined return to work30.42.77npnp
Resumption without negotiation5npnp30.30.3
Mediation------
Other reasons------
Total91.13.3161.87.5

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
np not available for publication but included in totals where applicable, unless otherwise indicated

Inquiries

For further information about these and related statistics, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.

Data downloads

Table 1: Industrial disputes which occurred during the period

Table 2a: Industrial disputes which occurred during the period, working days lost, industry

Table 2b: Industrial disputes which occurred during the period, working days lost per thousand employees, industry

Table 3a: Industrial disputes which occurred during the period, working days lost, states and territories

Table 3b: Industrial disputes which occurred during the period, working days lost per thousand employees, states and territories

Table 4a: Industrial disputes which ended during the period, cause of dispute

Table 4b: Industrial disputes which ended during the period, working days lost per employee involved

Table 4c: Industrial disputes which ended during the period, reason work resumed

All data cubes

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 6321.0.55.001.