Industrial Disputes, Australia

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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 2022
Released
9/06/2022

Key statistics

In the March quarter 2022:

  • 30 disputes occurred.
  • 11,400 employees were involved and 19,600 working days lost.
  • disputes occurred in 8 industries and in 6 states and territories.

During the year ended March 2022, there were 134 disputes and a total of 117,000 working days lost.

 QuarterYear ended
December Quarter 2021March Quarter 2022March Quarter 2021March Quarter 2022
Number of disputes    
 Commenced in period (no.)372276128
 Total (no.)553079134
Employees involved    
 Newly involved ('000)50.610.19.678.4
 Total ('000)57.211.49.878.9
Working days lost ('000)68.519.648.8117.0

Overview

In the March quarter 2022, there were:

  • 30 disputes, 25 less than from the previous quarter.
  • 11,400 employees involved, a decrease from 57,200 in the previous quarter.
  • 19,600 working days lost, a decrease from 68,500 in the previous quarter.

Year ended estimates:

  • 134 disputes occurred, 55 more than in the previous year.
  • 117,000 working days were lost, 68,200 more than the previous year.

Industrial disputes which occurred during the quarter
 Number of disputesEmployees involved 
 Commenced in periodTotalNewly involvedTotalWorking days lost
 no.no.'000'000'000
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
June Quarter 202130366.06.410.4
September Quarter 2021395011.713.318.5
December Quarter 2021375550.657.268.5
March Quarter 2022223010.111.419.6

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 March quarter, disputes occurred in eight industries. More than two in five (42%) working days lost were in the Education and training; Health care and social assistance industry.

Industrial disputes which occurred during the quarter, industry
 December Quarter 2021March Quarter 2022
Working days lostWorking days lost per thousand employeesWorking days lostWorking days lost per thousand employees
'000no.'000no.
Mining    
 Coal mining1.229.3npnp
 Other mining-0.20.20.7
Manufacturing    
 Metal product etc (a)2.58.0npnp
 Other manufacturing4.28.41.83.8
Construction1.11.21.61.7
Transport, postal and warehousing11.419.80.81.4
Education and training; Health care and social assistance44.015.58.22.8
Other industries (a)4.00.66.61.0
All industries68.55.719.61.6

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

 

States and territories

Disputes occurred in six states and territories in the March quarter, with three in five (60%) working days lost occurring in New South Wales.

Industrial disputes which occurred during the quarter, states and territories
 December Quarter 2021March Quarter 2022
Working days lostWorking days lost per thousand employeesWorking days lostWorking days lost per thousand employees
'000no.'000no.
NSW52.11411.73.1
Vic.7.82.5npnp
Qld3.81.62.91.2
SA2.02.41.51.8
WA2.31.8npnp
Tas.0.20.7--
NT----
ACT0.31.5--
Australia68.55.719.61.6

- 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 94% of disputes (44 of 47) which ended in the December quarter 2021.

Cause of disputes which ended during the quarter
 September Quarter 2021December Quarter 2021
Total Number of DisputesTotal Employees InvolvedWorking days LostTotal Number of DisputesTotal Employees InvolvedWorking days Lost
no.'000'000no.'000'000
Enterprise Bargaining (EB) related     
 Remuneration70.20.811npnp
 Employment conditions (EB)184.67.0318.527.3
 Other EB related---20.10.1
Non-EB related      
 Remuneration------
 Employment conditions10.70.51npnp
 Health and safety50.70.911.01.0
 Job security------
 Managerial policy---144.044.1
 Union issues------
 Other Non EB related10.90.5---
Total327.29.64754.576.1

- 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 47 disputes which ended in the December quarter, 12 lasted for 10 days and over. These disputes had:

  • 700 total employees involved; and
  • 12,400 working days lost.
Working days lost for disputes which ended during the quarter
 September Quarter 2021December Quarter 2021 
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 day175.94.6121.91.7
Over 1 day and up to 2 days50.20.31247.448.5
Over 2 days and up to 5 days60.92.594.413.0
Over 5 days and less than 10 days40.32.320.10.6
10 days and over---120.712.4
Total327.29.64754.576.1

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)

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 72% of disputes (34 of 47) which ended in the December quarter 2021. 

Reason work resumed for disputes which ended during the quarter
 September Quarter 2021December Quarter 2021 
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 party40.31.180.98.5
State legislation------
Federal legislation---1npnp
Pre-determined return to work244.97.23452.166.2
Resumption without negotiation42.11.311.01.0
Mediation---3npnp
Other reasons------
Total327.29.64754.576.1

- 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

ABS website changes

Update to thematic grouping and navigation on the ABS website

Labour themes and navigation on the ABS website have changed

The thematic groupings and navigation for labour statistics on the ABS website have been updated to better reflect the current range of available labour statistics, better align key labour market concepts with website themes and navigation, and improve discoverability.

The changes were implemented on the ABS website on Friday 25 March 2022.

The new themes are:
  • Employment and unemployment
  • Jobs
  • Earnings and working conditions
  • Labour Accounts

Industrial Disputes statistics moved from the 'Earnings and work hours' theme (abs.gov.au/statistics/labour/earnings-and-work-hours/) to the renamed 'Earnings and working conditions' theme (abs.gov.au/statistics/labour/earnings-and-working-conditions/).

Inquiries

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Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 6321.0.55.001.

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