Businesses in anti-strike shocker

Apparently, two-thirds of businesses think strikes will put recovery at risk. Sadly, they're likely to happen, whether we like it or not.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 21 Dec 2010
In the last couple of years, industrial action has caused upheaval for BA fliers, train passengers, anyone with mail to send, and even biscuit lovers. So few eyebrows will be raised at new research suggesting that 66% of businesses think there’s a good chance industrial action could derail economic recovery. The survey, by lawyers DLA Piper, found that almost nine out of 10 businesses are worried that there could be more industrial action in the next few months – hardly surprising, really, considering the cuts that are likely to be announced on Wednesday.

Predictably, of the more than 500 senior business leaders who took part in the Economics of Employee Relations study, two thirds believe industrial action will have a ‘detrimental effect’ on their businesses (presumably the other third are placard manufacturers), with potential strikes in the transport and communications sectors a particular concern. So they want the Government to step in. Three quarters of respondents back a proposal to change the law to create a minimum threshold for strike ballots – while a Private Members’ Bill by Labour MP John McDonnell, which suggests extending the circumstances when unions are immune from legal action, received just 24% support (The Bill receives its second reading in Parliament on Friday).

None of which is particularly ground-breaking stuff. But it does remind us that while the majority of private sector businesses may not be directly impacted by the spending cuts (unless they’re a public sector supplier, of course), they’re bound to be affected in other ways – for example, by their staff not being able to get to work because of strikes on the transport network (or by restricting the supply of their favourite teacakes, which could dramatically affect the nation’s productivity rates). Strikes by public sector workers could cause a lot of disruption to services businesses rely on, so the negative impact could be felt across the board.

That said, given how voluble the unions have been so far this year, it’s not as though businesses haven’t had ample opportunity to prepare…

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime