Over 8,300 days were lost to industrial disputes in the first half of the year, according to figures from the Central Statistics Office, more than double the amount recorded in the same period of 2013.

There were a total of eight disputes between January and June, according to the figures, involving 1,851 workers.

Six of those began in the second quarter of the year, with three – all in the industrial sector – accounting for the majority of days lost.

A total of 14,965 days were lost to industrial disputes in 2013, according to the CSO, compared to 8,486 in 2012 and 3,695 in 2011.

ISME wants law to prohibit strikes in public utilities and services

ISME, the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association, has called on the Government to legislate to prohibit strikes in public utilities and essential services like bus and rail services.

Strongly condemning threats from the National Bus and Railway Union and SIPTU to initiate strike action, it described the threat as "the desperate and cynical act of a group unwilling to face up to the realities of how a modern transport system must operate". 

ISME's Mark Fielding said that the pending action will seriously disrupt business activity throughout the country, resulting in many small companies' day to day activities being severely affected due to employees being unable to attend for work. 

"The loss to the economy will run into millions of euros, with the brunt being borne by the business community, not to mention the effect on our international reputation, as another negative message is sent worldwide about Ireland," Mr Fielding added.

Earlier this month, NBRU members voted to take strike action if Iarnród Éireann proceeds with planned pay cuts.

The company argues that the temporary pay cuts ranging from 1.7% to 6.1% are essential to secure the viability of the company - a view endorsed by the Labour Court in a previous ruling.

However, the NBRU and SIPTU have both voted to reject various proposals for cuts in four separate ballots.