UK – A survey of industrial relations has found that employees and employers are in “direct conflict” over pensions.

The report found that 11% of employers and 19% of trade unions said that industrial unrest had been caused by pensions issues. The survey found that the most problems are in the private sector.

“There are now examples of strike action over pension issues and many more threats of strike action,” said the 2003 Industrial Relations Survey, conducted by law firm DLA.

“This trend looks set to continue, as employees and employers find themselves in direct conflict between the desire to maintain valuable pension benefits and the needs to counter pension scheme deficits and increased funding costs,” the survey added. It said the problem was “compounded” by tighter accounting regulation.

The comments come as the main union body in the UK, the Trades Union Congress, has expressed its backing of strike action over pensions.

Survey co-author Mark Leach said: “With a call by certain trade union leaders for co-ordinated action and days of protest, it is possible that we will see a greater intensity to strike action, in relation to issues such as pay, pensions and public sector reform.”

The survey, which polled 370 employers, covering more than 1.7 million employees and 22 trade unions, found that UK employers faced almost twice as much strike action over the past twelve months.