If these figures sound high, it’s partly because of the number of public sector businesses in the survey - almost half of whom are expecting their staff to strike in the next year, as the Government spending cuts begin to take their toll. By contrast, others were much more optimistic: just 18% of private sector employers anticipate action at some point this year, and only 5% of non-profits. But the general picture seems pretty clear: the majority of organisations are expecting to see a lot more strikes in the next year, even if might not affect them directly.
It's not all bad news, though. Ben Wilmott, the CIPD’s senior policy adviser, points out that in a similar survey in 2008, a third of employers were expecting strike action over the following year - but in the end the figures were nowhere near as high as that. Instead, says Wilmott, for the large part, employers and their workers managed to negotiate their way out of trouble.
There's a catch, though: the relationship between management and unions appears to have deteriorated since 2008. While the CIPD points out that relations are ‘still generally positive’, the proportion of employers who would describe the situation as such has gone done noticeably - from 65% in 2008, to 55% in 2011. So perhaps it'll be harder for the two sides to reach an accommodation this time round.
On the other hand, three-quarters of workers are apparently aware of the fact that, as Wilmott puts it, ‘public-sector workers will quickly lose sympathy if they cause disruption to the general public’. Which may come as a relief to the employers concerned - and to those of us who rely on their services.