Industrial Action

Oral Answers to Questions — Employment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 5th July 1988.

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Photo of Mr David Martin Mr David Martin , Portsmouth South 12:00 am, 5th July 1988

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many working days were lost due to industrial action in 1987–88; what trend this figure shows in relation to 1986–87; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr Norman Fowler Mr Norman Fowler Secretary of State for Employment

Two and a half million working days were lost through strikes in the year to March 1988. This compares with 3·3 million and 2·5 million in the previous two financial years. These are the best results since 1967. A major reason for this improvement has been the Government's reform of trade union law.

Photo of Mr David Martin Mr David Martin , Portsmouth South

Does my right hon. Friend agree that those figures provide yet more evidence of the success of the Government's industrial relations policy, which has brought about benefits not only for ordinary trade unionists but for members of the public, to whom the disruption of a decade ago is like a dark age to which no one wishes to return?

Photo of Mr Norman Fowler Mr Norman Fowler Secretary of State for Employment

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. Last year 2·5 million working days were lost compared with an average of 13 million days a year in the 1970s, and in the manufacturing industry the average number of working days lost per employee in 1987 was almost one tenth of its 1970s average. Again, that shows the justification for and result of the Government's reform of trade union legislation.

Photo of Mrs Maria Fyfe Mrs Maria Fyfe , Glasgow Maryhill

Has the Minister made any estimates of the number of working people who should be on strike but are putting up with intolerable conditions because of the repressive measures passed four times over by the Tory Government?

Photo of Mr Norman Fowler Mr Norman Fowler Secretary of State for Employment

Not only have industrial relations in Britain improved radically, but, fortunately, employment has, with unemployment coming down in every region. The only people who talk against that are the Labour Front-Bench spokesmen.