Disputes over public sector pay rises have contributed to a significant increase in the number of working days lost to industrial action in WA.
Western Australia accounted for 41 per cent of working days lost to industrial action in the June quarter, the highest of any state or territory.
With a total of 8,400 days lost, WA’s 6.8 days days lost per 1,000 employees was more than double the next state, South Australia at 2.9.
The national average was 1.9 days lost per 1,000 employees in the June quarter, for a total of 20,200 days, up from 9,700 in March.
The performance bucks a long-term trend in WA, with the state’s quarterly average in the five years to June 2014 only 2.4 lost days per 1,000 workers, well below the national average of 4.8 during this period.
In the previous quarter, WA lost only 100 working days to industrial action across the state.
Year on year, Australia lost 88,900 working days to industrial disputes, significantly down from the year to June 2013, during which 207,600 days were lost.
The national result was driven by the education and training, health care and social assistance sectors with a total of 9,800 days lost, representing 48 per cent of the total.
That translated to around 4.5 lost days per 1,000 employees, second only to construction with 6.1 days per 1,000 employees, for a total of 4,800.
Positive news for WA comes from the non-coal mining sector, which has produced close to zero lost days for seven consecutive quarters.
There were 60 total disputes nationally in June, 54 of which started during the period, up from 36 in the previous period.
The June quarter included disputes between the state government and the Health Services Union WA, the State School Teachers’ Union WA, with the HSU holding a campaign as part of enterprise bargaining negotiations, and the SSTUWA rallying against changes to school funding.
More than 100 schools were closed for a day in April as part of the SSTUWA’s action, just days before the re-run of the WA Senate election.
The state government’s strong wages policy also attracted criticism from the Community and Public Sector Union, with the government capping wage increases at the Perth consumer price index.