Firms wary as unions prepare to strike

Nearly half of employers are bracing themselves for strike ballots over the
coming months as unions become more aggressive, according to a survey on
industrial relations.

The survey of 243 large employers and trade unions by law firm DLA reveals
more than 40 per cent of unions also anticipate an increase in industrial
action over the coming months – up from 33 per cent last year.

The figures have led DLA’s head of HR group David Bradley, to predict that
the coming months will be "one of the most important periods for UK
industrial relations in living memory".

The picture looks even worse if the public sector is examined in isolation.
Predictions of strike action from public sector employers have almost doubled
since last year – up from 18 to 35 per cent. The survey also shows more unions
are using the threat of ballots in an effort to press their case in pay

Unions are also polling members to see whether to hold a ballot – a method
that is cheaper and faster than holding a full-scale ballot.

Bradley thinks compulsory union recognition legislation and the forthcoming
Information and Consultation Directive will mean employers and unions will have
to work together more closely than previously.

"There are many issues for employers and unions to consider, most of
which will involve significant change for both sides of industry. The fear is
that if both sides continue with a traditional approach the result may well be an
increase in conflict," he said.

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