In 2011 1.39 million working days were lost in the UK as the direct result of industrial action, according to a new report from the Office for National Statistics, over a million more than in 2010.

These lost days, the most for 20 years, arose from 149 different labour disputes, compared to only 92 in 2010 and 98 in 2009. Of these disputes nearly 60% came from the public sector and they were responsible for 92% of lost working days.

The private sector also saw an increase, with 110,000 lost days, the highest since 2004.

Despite redundancies and job losses caused by the recession less that 4% of disputes were related to this, whilst 95% involved an element rated to pay.

Over half of the stoppages caused by strike action lasted only one day, with 9.4% lasting 6-10 days and 2% lasting 31-50 days.

Days lost to action had been on the decline since 2007, whilst these new statistics show a reversal in the trend.