Five facts about… strikes

As rail staff at Eurostar suspend two strikes this month for talks in a dispute over their work-life balance, and discussions between unions and management at Southern continue, we look at recent and historic statistics on industrial action in the UK.

1. The number of working days lost due to strikes in 2015 was 170,000 compared with 788,000 in 2014

The 2015 figure was the second-lowest annual total since records began in 1891.

Working days lost (WDL), UK, 1891 to 2015

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2. The number of stoppages has fallen broadly over the last eight years

However, the number of working days lost has remained broadly flat. This means large-scale stoppages have become more common.

Stoppages, UK, 1996 to 2015

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3. From 2006 to 2015, public sector strikes accounted for 85% of all strikes on average

Working days lost (WDL) by public and private split, UK, 2006 to 2015

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4. 81,000 people were involved in strikes in 2015, the fewest people since records began in 1893

Four years earlier more than 1.5 million people went on strike – the highest number since the mid-1980s.

Labour disputes annual estimates, UK, 1891 to 2015

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5. The Public Administration sector, Education sector and the Transport, Storage, Information and Communication sector have seen the most working days lost to strikes per 1,000 employees since 2006

This is mainly because disputes in this group tend to be large. Education has also seen a large strike rate. This industry group has a large number of labour disputes, but the disputes are usually small. A full list of sectors and the numbers of working days lost to strikes in 2015 can be seen here.

Working days lost per 1,000 employees by industry (United Kingdom, not seasonally adjusted)

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