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Days lost to IR disputes nosedives to lowest level in 2 years

Industrial news update

DAYS lost to industrial disputes, the number of workers involved, and the number of disputes fell sharply in the December 2012 quarter, new ABS figures have revealed.

The ABS reported 58 disputes in the Dec quarter – 10 less than the previous quarter. It said the number of employees involved in disputes fell by almost half – from 55,800 in the September quarter to 27,300 in Dec. Working days lost to disputes fell from 110,000 in Sept to just 27,500 in the Dec quarter, the ABS said. The decrease was partly due to the resolution of state public sector disputes. The ABS said the education, training, healthcare and social services sectors accounted for 55% of the total days lost, with the coal industry accounting for the highest number of days lost per thousand employees (56.8%).

NSW (11,800) and Victoria (10,600) accounted for  87% of working days lost in the Dec quarter 2012, the ABS said.

The Master Builders Association (MBA) Victorian office said the latest figures showed IR disputes “continue to plague the construction industry”. “The productivity of our industry is being hurt by rampant union action like what was seen at Melbourne’s Emporium construction site and the Little Creatures brewery site in Geelong,” MBA Vic IR manager Lawrie Cross said.

He claimed days lost to construction industry IR disputes in Vic “are now at their highest point since 2005”. “Losing valuable working days costs our industry millions of dollars and can cause lengthy delays and cost blowout to many construction projects,” Cross said. “Our national economy suffers while the Federal Government bows to their union mates for campaign donations.”

Workplace Relations minister Bill Shorten said the figures showed “2.5 working days lost per 1000 employees, which is the lowest industrial dispute rate since the March quarter of 2011”. “I have said many times that industrial dispute data is volatile and fluctuates from quarter to quarter,” Shorten said. “Opportunistic, short-term comparisons miss the big picture that industrial disputes have been trending down strongly over time.”

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