Transport sector and junior doctors' dispute drive increase in days lost to industrial action for 2016

 
Rebecca Smith
Southern rail suffered numerous strikes last year
Southern Rail suffered numerous strikes last year (Source: Getty)

The number of days lost to industrial disputes almost doubled last year, driven by the transport sector and the junior doctors' strike, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

In terms of the number of strikes, the largest sectors were transport and storage with 23 strikes held and 49,100 working days lost of the 322,000 total.

The sector with the highest figure for working days lost, though, was human health and social work, predominantly due to the dispute involving junior doctors. It accounted for 129,000 lost working days.

Read more: Days lost to strike action soared 89 per cent last year

The ONS pointed out that while the number of working days lost to labour disputes was 89 per cent higher than 2015, it was still the eighth lowest annual total since records began back in 1891.

For transport, the long-running Southern rail row over the role of the guard has led to numerous walkouts.

Christmas of last year was marked by a flurry of strikes across British Airways, as well as Southern rail walkouts and action by Crown Post Office workers.

While the Southern rail dispute goes on, 2017 has featured a batch of BMW strikes in a row over pensions, though several have been suspended as workers mull a fresh offer from the car firm.

The main cause of industrial action last year, in terms of working days lost, was duration and pattern of hours worked, again due to the junior doctor row. But in terms of the number of workers involved, the main cause of industrial action in 2016 was redundancies, which accounted for 55.9 per cent of all workers involved in walkouts last year.

Comparing that to 2007-2015, pay has been the main cause of disputes in every year except 2009 and 2010 when redundancies were the prime cause in the wake of the economic downturn.

London and the North East were the two regions with the highest number of working days lost in 2016, at 16 per 1,000 employees.

Working days lost per 1,000 employees by sector from 2007-2016

Working days lost per 1,000 employees by sector from 2007-2016

Read more: RMT suspends next week's raft of strikes in wake of Manchester attack

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