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Employers fear industrial action

6 April 2011

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A majority of employers are worried about increased levels of industrial action in the next 12 months as the public spending cuts begin to take effect, a study has shown.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development questioned 400 employers, with results showing that almost a third thought strikes by their staff are likely.

Deteriorating employment relations in the public sector were highlighted in the poll, along with a higher level of expectation that industrial action will be launched in the coming months.

Since 2008, relations between unions and management have decreased with a number of employers saying they were good dropping from 65% to 55%.

Ben Willmott, Senior Public Policy Adviser at the CIPD, said: “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 still open to question.

“Our 2008 survey also found a third of employers anticipated strike action by staff over the next 12 months, but this did not materialise in a sudden increase in working days lost to strike action during 2009.

“What actually happened was that the economic crisis led to management and unions working together in the private sector in many cases to try and save jobs.

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

Copyright © Press Association 2011