Thursday, March 14, 2013

Industrial Disputes: Unions forget they’re suppose to be on the warpath

Well along with the good employment figures, the ABS also released the quarterly industrial disputes, and surprise, surprise, the amount of working days lost fell in the December quarter:


Look I know, I know. Who wants all that context, – show us up close, show us the past 10 years:


OK, look context is confusing. We all know that the December quarter is the low one for strikes, after all this time last year, The Australian noted when trying to explain why industrial disputes fell:

“But industrial disputation fluctuates seasonally, and generally falls in the final quarter of the year as workers go on annual leave.”

And given disputes have fallen in 12 out of the past 20 December quarters I guess “generally falls” means, falls just a bit more than it rises.

But hey, let’s not get bogged down in facts. Let’s assume December is the low quarter. Let’s see what the figures look like if we just look at the December quarter:


Yep, it is the second lowest number of disputes in a December quarter since the ABS has started counting.

Second lowest.

Damn militant unions.

OK, OK, I know what you’re saying, the key is to look at the annual numbers:


Again, too much context, let’s look at that past 10 years


Yep it did rise, and now it’s going down. And why did it rise? In the main due to disputes in the Education and training and Health Care systems. Due to disputes with state governments. In IR systems outside of the Fair Work Act.

But hey, we need to return the balance in IR and all that.

What about actual number of disputes, rather than the number f hours lost. Surely the new IR regime has led to strike nirvana?


Jeebus. You can see why businesses, The Oz and the AFR are worried.

OK, look, Quarterly figures hide things. Let’s look at the annual numbers of disputes:


So the Fair Work Act came in in July 2009. Gee, you can see the big jump after that.

Here’s breakdown according to industry, which shows that again, Education & Health etc is the main area:


On the per thousand employees measure however, the coal industry has been the worst hit:


And for the context of the coal industry disputes (the figures only go back to 2008 and many quarters there is nothing to count):


Sure there was an increase on this measure in 2011-12. Seems to have eased a fair bit.

Any way, I think we can file this one with the wages breakout and the low productivity that the Fair Work Act has wrought on this country.

But no doubt the usual suspect will find something. My guess – the annual figures (and compare it to the bottom of 2007) and the coal mining per thousand.


James said...

Damn you and your truth based analysis!! Now you've gone and made Tony Abbott promise that workers pay and conditions will be safe under a coalition government. (Yeah.. Right!)

En Passant with John Passant said...

Thanks. Very useful.

John Passant said...

Thanks. Very useful.

Chris said...

You were right about the media reporting and analysis

I feel sorry for the ALP. They will probably lose government just as unemployment, tax revenue and strikes drop naturally/as a result of coming out of the GFC, plus productivity will increase as a result of mining investment coming on line (producing instead of costing) - and the Libs will claim its all due to them. Part of me wishes the Libs bad luck

Greg Jericho said...

Chris, I've been thinking much the same thing. I think this coming election is a very good one to win.

Troy Wheatley said...

I'm surprised anyone really looks at this series anymore, though I see your point in using it here. The series has been low for ages and it doesn't really link to any other indicators.

Anonymous said...

Care to share the source of your figures? I know you mention ABS but then share no links. At the moment they're just random charts created by some random guy.

Troy Wheatley said...

This would be the source:

Troy Wheatley said...

The link would be here: