Most UK employers do not expect to experience workplace disputes within their organisations over the next 12 months, according to research from Personnel Today’s sister publication IRS Employment Review.
More than a quarter of the 487 employers surveyed predict a zero probability of a collective dispute in their organisation, while nearly one-third estimate there is less than a 10% chance of trouble.
As a result, 60% of employers all but rule out the idea that they will become embroiled in a dispute with unions in the year ahead.
Across the sectors, however, the issue of pensions stands out. Nearly half of public sector panel members expect that if there is a collective dispute with their trade unions, it will be about pensions.
Although few organisations expect to become embroiled in a collective dispute over the coming year, 10% think it highly likely. Public sector employers, in particular, fear that pensions are most likely to cause trouble.
Mark Crail, managing editor of IRS Employment Review, said: “The IRS research seems to suggest that the relationship between employers and unions, where it exists, is relatively constructive and even effective.
“Overall, around eight out of ten of our panel members agreed to at least some extent with the proposition that they had a constructive working relationship with union reps, and disagreed with the idea that unions failed to understand the needs of their business.”
From the point of view of trades unions, one of the most positive changes in the legal climate of recent years has been the introduction of a right to recognition where a majority of the workforce wants it, Crail said.
“Although private service sector firms appear marginally less likely to describe their relationship with union reps as constructive, this positive attitude can generally be seen in organisations of all sizes and from all sectors of the economy,” he said.