Employers predict rise in industrial action

Seven employers in 10 (71%) predict a rise in industrial action in the UK over the next year and one-third (33%) think that strikes in their own organisations are likely, according to data released today by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

The CIPD’s Employment Relations Survey of 400 organisations found that employers in the public sector are particularly worried about industrial action, with just under half (49%) saying their workers may strike in the coming year. This compares with 18% in the private sector.

The survey also highlighted a slight deterioration in relations with trade unions. More than half (55%) of employers described relations between management and unions as “positive” but this figure was down 10% on the 2008 survey.

Ben Willmott, senior public policy adviser at the CIPD, commented: “The survey highlights the impact that spending cuts are having on the employment relations climate. However, to what extent this deterioration in relations between management and unions will result in sustained strike action by public sector workers is open to question.”

Last week, Personnel Today investigated whether or not strike laws could be changed if the UK faced mass strike action. Experts warned that to instigate coordinated strikes, unions would have to gain public support.

Willmott added that a separate CIPD survey, the October 2010 Employee Outlook, found that nearly three-quarters of employees agree that, in the light of the tough times endured by private sector staff through the recession, striking public sector workers will quickly lose sympathy if they cause disruption to the general public.

“This might suggest that while there is a lot of union rhetoric about the possibility of strike action – as there was in 2008 – when it comes to actually coming on strike, employees today are much harder to mobilise than they were during past times of economic and social crisis,” said Willmott.

More information on handling industrial action can be found in XpertHR’s FAQs.

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