Parliament is currently considering amendments to the Labour Relations Act (LRA), which, if passed, will dramatically alter the constitutional right to strike. The justification the Department of Labour provides in the impact assessment for the amendments is that strike action and, particularly, violent and protracted strike action is at an all-time high. However, this assertion is not borne out by the department’s own data on strikes. In fact, the impact of these amendments is likely to increase, rather than decrease unprocedural strike action. While it is true that the number of work stoppages has increased over the past decade, the increase has not been dramatic (see Figure 1). But using the number of work stoppages as an indicator of industrial action is a very imprecise measure. More commonly, the number of working days lost is used as a more accurate measure of industrial action. Figures from the department’s annual industrial action report show that, over a 10-year period, th...

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