Karl Hitchcock holds the CFMEU flag at the Newcastle climate strike

No one talks about strikes any more. But if you were around in the 1980s, "militant unions" and a culture of industrial disputation were always being hailed as a major problem in the Australia economy. Union power had to be curbed and workers prevented from withdrawing their labour as a tactic in industrial negotiations, we were told incessantly.

Well, it got curbed, all right. Figures released in September by the ABS showed that, for the second straight year, the number of days lost to strikes per 1000 employees in 2018-19 averaged 2.5 per quarter. It has averaged between two to three days every quarter for five years. A decade ago, it was usually over three. For most of the 2000s, it was much higher -- in double digits. In 2004, 17 days per 1000 were lost. In the 1990s it was usually over 20. In the 1980s, it was 40, 50, 60, and 78 in 1985, the first year the ABS began recording data.