Friday, 20 January 2023 12:42

Surviving Strikes

There seems to be little let-up at the moment in the amount of industrial action taking place across the nation and across a raft of industries. While some of us may have occasionally been inconvenienced by the likes of Frech Air-Traffic Controllers upsetting our holiday plans, strikes on the current scale haven’t been seen for quite a few years in the UK. For many, this will be their first encounter with such industrial action, on both sides of the picket line.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said 13% of businesses reported some kind of impact from industrial action toward the end of 2022. Common issues include being unable to access goods or services which they needed, for example because of postal strikes.

Businesses are also being affected as their employees struggle to get to their place of work, either owing to transport strikes or because they are forced to stay at home on childcare duty because teachers have walked out. Whilst some business types, such as hospitality and manufacturing, have little room for manoeuvre, a little creativity from others may help to alleviate the impact of the strike action.

The debate over the pros and cons of working from home rages on, but when transport strikes mean your staff are denied the ability to get to work, allowing them to work from home, where that is a practical solution, is an obvious solution. Indeed, the advent of working from home and other flexible options since the Covid pandemic is probably lessening the impact that some strikes are having; reducing the value of strikes as a bargaining chip for unions.

Where staff are unable to make it into the workplace, and home working isn’t an option, reverting to holiday will probably be the default position for most. Unpaid leave could also be a consideration where not enough holiday allowance remains. We are usually forewarned when strike days are going to happen which makes planning ahead a little easier, although that may be of little comfort to employers who depend on a certain headcount being present in the workplace.

Initiating a car-sharing scheme could be something to consider to help employees get to work; with perhaps some flexibility in start-times built in to allow for busier than usual roads or deviations from the driver’s usual route to collect colleagues. For those affected by teacher’s strikes and therefore presented with childcare challenges, setting up an emergency creche is probably unrealistic. Flexibility with start and finish times however may be sufficient to enable staff time to drop off children with a family member or friend.

Industrial action by paramedics. Nurses and associated workers such as call handlers, is something that nobody want to be affected by. It’s certainly something that we are unlikely to plan for. Some extra precautions around the workplace however might be prudent.

If there was a firefighter’s strike, we might be inclined to prepare ready access to water and ensure fire extinguishers were serviced and in working condition. With emergency health workers walking out, maybe now is a good time to check that your first aid kits are fully stocked and that you know the location of the nearest defibrillator. Also ensure there is someone on hand who knows how to use it and when is appropriate to do so. Generally, make sure that you have sufficient numbers of First Aiders available for each shift.

At the moment, widespread public support for those workers electing to strike appears to remain intact. How long it continues however before people begin to lose their patience is anybody’s guess.

We’re here to support with all aspects of HR, Employment Law and employee wellbeing. Call us to discus on 01452 331331 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Read 617 times Last modified on Friday, 20 January 2023 13:15


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