The number of working days lost to strike action in the UK has reached its highest in a decade, new data published today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows.
The latest figures reveal 417,000 working days were lost to industrial action in October 2022, the highest monthly number since November 2011 when just under one million working days were lost.
In the five months to October 2022, 1.2 million working days were lost in the UK. The ONS stopped collecting data on strike action during the Covid-19 pandemic and only began again in June of this year. However, the figure is 25 times greater than during the same period in 2019, when 47,000 working days were lost to strike action.
October’s figures are also double the amount lost in September 2022, when 209,000 working days were lost. The ONS said some strikes were suspended in September for the State Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.
Workers across the UK have been taking industrial action since June in response to the cost of living crisis and rising inflation. Refuse workers, barristers, teachers, postal workers and railway workers have all walked out in response to pay and working conditions since the summer.
This morning members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union walked out in the first of a wave of 48-hour strikes in a long-running dispute over pay, jobs and conditions. Travellers have been warned to expect major disruption across the rail network as only 20% of trains are expected to run, with some parts of the country getting no services at all.
The Communications Workers Union (CWU) who represent Royal Mail workers also have walkouts planned for December, as do unions representing NHS staff across England.
Who is striking and which parts of the UK are worst affected?
Additional figures show that the transport, storage, information and communication industry, which includes jobs in public transport, post and telecoms, were the main driving force behind the lost working days in October. ONS figures show 368,100 working days were lost in the sector in October, followed by education with 26,300 lost working days.
Far more working days were lost in the private sector than the public sector, the figures show. The private sector lost 369,000 working days in October, eight times greater than the public sector which lost 48,000 working days. Some 121,000 workers in the private sector have been involved in industrial action and 26,000 in the public sector.
Further data shows how many working days have been lost to industrial action across all UK regions and nations. London was the hardest hit by lost working days last month with 69,200 days lost to industrial action, followed by the North West with 56,400 and the South East with 56,200.