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Wednesday, 4 April 1973
Page: 1109

Mr Lynch asked the Minister for Labour, upon notice:

Can he say how many man-days were lost per 1,000 employees in Australia and in the major countries in the Western World because of (a) absenteeism (b) industrial accidents and (c) strikes during each calendar year from and including 1966.

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I am informed that the answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(a)   Absenteeism. Studies conducted by my Department on absence from work in Australia have indicated that considerable differences occur in levels of absence between firms and between industry and occupational groups. For example, a survey of 186 firms carried out for the months of August and September 1966, found absence rates ranging from 2.3 per cent to S.8 per cent, with an average of 4.2 per cent of total work-hours rostered. For statistical reasons entirely reliable conclusions cannot be drawn from these figures about absence in the Australian workforce as a whole. However, a rough approximation can be arrived at by applying the average figure of 4.2 per cent to the total workforce, so obtaining a figure of ten thousand workdays lost through absence per 1,000 employees each year. Statistics available on absence do not permit the requested international comparisons to be made. (b)Industrial Accidents. A Working Party set up by the Commonwealth and State Departments of Labour has estimated that, for the years 1967-68 and 1968-69, disabling injuries causing one or more days' absence from work were occurring at the approximate rate of 40 per million man-hours worked, or approximately 80 per 1,000 employees per year.

No detailed estimates have been made for other years. However, there are strong indications that in all States and in Commonwealth employment there is a slight but perceptible decrease in the number of injuries in relation to the workforce.

Injury rates have been quoted by some major industrial countries but differences in the bases of reporting and in methods of collection make any comparisons extremely unreliable.

(c)   Strikes. The table below (based on information supplied by the International Labour Office) shows the number of days lost through industrial disputes per 1,000 persons employed in a number of countries, from 1966 to 1971. The industries covered are mining, manufacturing, construction and transport. As the definitions used for these statistics vary from country to country too much significance should not be attached to relatively small differences in the figures. The information was published in the October 1972 issue of the United Kingdom Department of Employment Gazette.


The figures for Australia in the above table are not comparable with the Commonwealth Statistician's industrial disputes statistics.

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