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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
March 2021
Released
3/06/2021

Key statistics

In the March quarter 2021

  • 24 disputes occurred.
  • 2,700 employees were involved and 19,200 working days lost.
  • disputes occurred in 6 industries and in 6 states and territories.

During the year ended March 2021, there were 79 disputes and a total of 48,800 working days lost.

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 QuarterYear ended
December 2020March 2021March 2020March 2021
Number of disputes    
 Commenced in period (no.)272212076
 Total (no.)322413079
Employees involved    
 Newly involved ('000)2.22.346.79.6
 Total ('000)2.62.748.39.8
Working days lost ('000)16.519.251.748.8

Overview

In the March quarter 2021, there were:

  • 24 disputes, 8 less than from the previous quarter.
  • 2,700 employees involved, an increase from 2,600 in the previous quarter.
  • 19,200 working days lost, an increase from 16,500 in the previous quarter.

Year ended estimates:

  • 79 disputes occurred, 51 less than in the previous year.
  • 48,800 working days were lost, 6% less than the previous year.
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1 Industrial disputes which occurred during the quarter
 Number of disputesEmployees involved 
 Commenced in periodTotalNewly involvedTotalWorking days lost
 no.no.'000'000'000
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
March Quarter 202122242.32.719.2

Long-term trends

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

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Industry

In the March quarter, disputes occurred in six industries. More than six in ten (68%) working days lost were in the Transport, postal and warehousing industry.

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2 Industrial disputes which occurred during the quarter, industry
 December Quarter 2020March Quarter 2021
Working days lostWorking days lost per thousand employeesWorking days lostWorking days lost per thousand employees
'000no.'000no.
Mining    
 Coal mining--1.734.6
 Other mining---0.1
Manufacturing    
 Metal product etc (a)npnp--
 Other manufacturing2.34.61.83.5
Construction0.91.01.31.4
Transport, postal and warehousing12.421.613.121.8
Education and training; Health care and social assistance----
Other industries (a)npnp1.20.2
All industries16.51.419.21.6

- 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 six states and territories in the March quarter, with more than eight in ten (82%) working days lost occurring in New South Wales.

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3 Industrial disputes which occurred during the quarter, states and territories
 December Quarter 2020March Quarter 2021
Working days lostWorking days lost per thousand employeesWorking days lostWorking days lost per thousand employees
'000no.'000no.
NSW12.43.315.84.3
Vic.2.10.71.90.6
Qld0.70.30.60.2
SA0.50.6npnp
WA0.60.50.80.6
Tas.npnp--
NT--npnp
ACTnpnp--
Australia16.51.419.21.6

- 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 67% of disputes (20 of 30) which ended in the December quarter 2020.

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4 Cause of disputes which ended during the quarter
 September Quarter 2020December 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     
 Remuneration40.30.480.31.4
 Employment conditions (EB)70.96.4122.87.3
 Other EB related------
Non-EB related      
 Remuneration---1--
 Employment conditions------
 Health and safety2npnp50.40.4
 Job security---10.3-
 Managerial policy10.1-1npnp
 Union issues2npnp1npnp
 Other Non EB related---1npnp
Total161.87.5304.39.7

- 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 30 disputes which ended in the December quarter, 12 lasted for a day or less. These disputes had:

  • 1,300 total employees involved; and
  • 800 working days lost.
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5 Working days lost for disputes which ended during the quarter
 September Quarter 2020December 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 day80.80.5121.30.8
Over 1 day and up to including 2 days1npnp61.01.3
Over 2 and less than 5 days3npnp61,74.2
5 and less than 10 days2npnp30.32.4
10 days and over2npnp30.11.0
Total161.87.5304.39.7

- 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 57% of disputes (17 of 30) which ended in the December quarter 2020. 

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6 Reason work resumed for disputes which ended during the quarter
 September Quarter 2020December 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 party2npnp50.42.3
State legislation20.20.11npnp
Federal legislation2npnp10.60.8
Pre-determined return to work7npnp172.55.9
Resumption without negotiation30.30.36npnp
Mediation------
Other reasons------
Total161.87.5304.39.7

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

Data downloads

Time Series Spreadsheets

Data files

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 6321.0.55.001.