48% of Brits support rail workers striking over pay and conditions, poll finds

Elliot Chappell
© Ceri Breeze/Shutterstock.com

Almost half of all UK adults support rail workers going on strike when the dispute is over pay and conditions, according to research by Savanta ComRes.

The polling, published this afternoon amid ongoing strikes as transport workers across the country take part in industrial action to protect their pay, terms and conditions, found strong support among the public for workers doing so.

According to the survey, which asked respondents whether they would support or oppose different occupations striking, 48% of the public reported that they support rail workers taking such action where the dispute concerns their pay and conditions. Just a third of those surveyed, 31%, said they would be opposed.

Three in five (59%) of adults told researchers that they are supportive of workers striking more generally, with that figure rising to 70% for those aged 18-34 and 73% for those currently working in the public sector.

The research, which gave as an example a scenario in which a workforce or union does not believe that the pay rise offered is satisfactory, showed that the public were most likely to support nurses (61%) taking industrial action, followed by bus drives (53%), refuse collectors, teachers and postal workers (51% each).

The study also found that half (50%) of those surveyed think that striking has a positive impact on the chance of getting better pay, although 45% said that it has a negative impact on how the public feel about their industry.

Commenting on the poll, political research director at Savanta ComRes Chris Hopkins said: “This so-called ‘summer of strikes’ is far from over, and providing unions can get the message across to the public that the pay deals they’ve been offered are not satisfactory, public support is likely to remain high.

“Contrarily, though, the public do believe that continued industrial action will have a negative impact on sympathy levels for the sectors balloting for strike action, and therefore there could still be a tipping point where the public have simply had enough and support begins to fade away.”

The poll comes amid a series of further strike days being taken this week. Rail workers are striking today and Saturday while TfL staff will walk out on Friday.

Royal Mail employees are due to take further strike action. Communication Workers Union general secretary Dave Ward said last week that workers were being “mugged off” by the Royal Mail Group after the union announced that 115,000 postal staff will take four days of strike action in the coming weeks.

Further industrial action is set to take place over the coming months across a range of sectors as government pay offers to teachers, nurses, police officers and other key public sector industries have been rejected or criticised by unions.

400,000 people have signed up to the Enough is Enough campaign to pressure the government to take action on the cost-of-living crisis. The campaign, launched just over a week ago on August 9th, received 150,000 signatories in the first two days.

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