With signs that strikes may be abating for the time being, new data from small business lender iwoca reveals that SMEs have lost out on 680,000 days of trading per month, due to industrial action. Cumulatively, this amounts to four million days of trading over the last six months, with trading slowdowns set to continue as unions warn of further action into the Spring.
Strike action has taken its toll on the day-to-day running of businesses. A third (31%) of companies taking part in the analysis said strikes were having a negative impact on their business, with over a fifth (21%) reporting that customer orders had been delayed due to postal strikes. Nearly a fifth (18%) also had to change their work plans due to industrial action.
Business support for strikes remains unchanged
While the strikes have had a negative impact on some small businesses, one in three (34%) SME owners side with striking workers, agreeing that employers should agree to the demands of workers who are striking.
Since the summer, SMEs’ views on strikes have largely been solidified: two in five (43%) SME owners have not changed their views on strikes in the last six months, with action becoming more commonplace towards the end of the year and into 2023. While a fifth (22%) of small businesses have felt more supportive of the ongoing striking workers since summer, a third (32%) find their support has fallen.
SMEs call for a resolution
As some transport, healthcare and teaching unions suspend strike action after accepting new deals, SME owners welcome cooperation between employers and workers. In fact, more than eight in ten SMEs (82%) believe that employers and workers should come to an agreement without the need to strike.
Colin Goldstein, Commercial Director at iwoca, said: “While strikes have impacted industries across the board, we’re now starting to see the ripple effect of sustained industrial action on small businesses.
“If you’re one of the UK’s 5.5m small businesses, you now have to contend with lost trading days due to strikes as well as rising cost of doing business, including spiralling energy costs and inflation – all resulting in an incredibly tough trading environment. At the same time, their support for strikes has remained relatively consistent, and naturally they would like to see all sides come to an agreement.”
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