Nearly 800,000 working days were lost over strike disputes last year, a sharp increase on the previous year – but it was still nothing, compared with the 1970s.
Just a week after unions left London at a standstill with a 24-hour tube strike over working conditions on the upcoming Night Tube, the Office for National Statistics has released new figures on labour disputes.
A total of 788,000 working days were lost to strike action in 2014 – nearly double the 2013 figure, and higher than the average for this century.
Looking further back, however, it’s clear strikes have become far less common since the seventies and eighties, as working days lost over strikes have dropped significantly over the past 30 years. In 1979, close to 30m days were lost over strikes.
The last time over 1m days were lost was 2011, when two large public sector strikes pushed days lost close to 1.4m.
Digging even deeper into historical data, even 1979’s Winter of Discontent pales in comparison with the intense strike action of the 1920s, culminating in the general strike of 1926, where 1.5m workers went on strike for nine days.
The vast majority of strike action occurs in the public sector, as the private sector accounted for just 9 per cent of working days lost in 2014.