Employers can improve their relationships with unions by engaging their employees, the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) has claimed.

A survey by the organisation revealed that industrial unrest is more common in the public sector, with 49 per cent of public sector employees reporting strike action in the past 12 months, compared to 12 per cent of private sector companies.

However, despite speculation about widespread discontent among the UK workforce, two-thirds of employers claim their relationship with unions is either positive or very positive.

Jackie Orme, chief executive of the CIPD, said employees have become more understanding of the economic realities facing their employers because firms have improved the way they engage their staff.

"We expect to see some strike action in the months ahead, but the vast majority of people will work with their employers to get through these tougher times and come out the other side in good shape," she remarked.

Meanwhile, the CIPD has produced a new guide to help employers avoid tribunals through effective mediation.