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Industrial disputes close to two-year low

Australia has recorded its lowest level of industrial disputation in almost two years, new figures show.

Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Bill Shorten said the ABS data for the December quarter of 2012, released today, shows that working days lost to industrial disputes was the lowest recorded since the March quarter 2011.

“This is equal to 2.5 working days lost per 1000 employees, which is the lowest industrial dispute rate since the March quarter of 2011,” Mr Shorten said.

“The dispute rate is also relatively low by recent historical standards, with an average of 6.1 working days lost per 1000 employees over the past decade,” Mr Shorten said.

“Under the Howard Government there was an average of 13.5 working days lost per 1000 employees each quarter. Since the Labor Government came to office there have been only 4.9 days lost each quarter on average.”

The number of working days lost was a significant fall from the previous quarter, where there were 10.8 days lost per 1000 employees.

“I have said many times that industrial dispute data is volatile and fluctuates from quarter to quarter,” Mr Shorten said.

“Opportunistic, short-term comparisons miss the big picture that industrial disputes have been trending down strongly over time.

“It is important for all participants in the national economic debate to recognise the long-term downward trend in industrial disputes under Labor continues.

“Under the Fair Work system, the vast majority of enterprise agreements are made without any industrial action at all.”

The low number of working days lost to industrial disputes was achieved despite continuing industrial action in the Victorian public sector, particularly by teachers and health care workers.

The Victorian Government’s disputes with teachers and health care workers contributed to the 14,100 days lost in the education, training, health care and social assistance sector, which accounted for 54.9 per cent of days lost in the December quarter 2012. The teachers’ dispute remains ongoing.

“The Victorian Government should sit down and work through the issues with its teachers. The sooner the matter is resolved by the Victorian Government the better for teachers, students, families and all Victorians,” Mr Shorten said.

Mr Shorten’s Media Contact: Sam Casey — 0421 697 660