Against strikes? Actually, people support unions


2:25 pm - June 21st 2011

by Sunny Hundal    


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We are told by newspaper commentators almost everyday that widespread union strikes would not have public support.

Except, a poll by Populus this week has found the opposite. Bizarre that newspapers chose not to report on it.

Statements polled by Populus:

1. Strikes are a legitimate way for Unions to protect the pay and conditions of their members
Agreed: 54% (incl 19% strongly); 18% disagree (incl 6% strongly); 28% undecided.

2. Strikes are a legitimate way for Unions to protest against the general direction of Government policy
Agreed: 46% (16% strongly); Disagree 29% (11% strongly); 25% undecided.

However, there is some mixed news for unions too.

3. Ballots on industrial action should need a minimum number of Union members voting in them before strike action can be called.
Agreed: 71% (incl 31% strongly); 9% disagree (incl 3% strongly); 20% undecided.

Though most members are for strikes right now, this suggests unions should keep highlighting the democratic legitimacy of their strikes.

4. The Government should legislate so that strikes are not allowed in certain public services
Agreed: 46% (incl 20% strongly); 31% disagree (incl 12% strongly); 23% undecided.

The poll also showed that the public would have most sympathy for striking nurses (60%) followed by fire-fighters (55%).

Sympathy for striking workers was lowest for flight attendants (17%).

The poll suggests unions start from a largely sympathetic base of support. Though its also likely the numbers will change depending on how strikes are played out.

[Full tables on the Populus site]

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


1. Can'tBeBotheredTo ThinkOfAnInterestingName

Interesting… but doesn’t really state that the public would or do support widespread union strikes to protect pensions etc. I’m not saying they necessarily don’t or wouldn’t – just that this poll doesn’t give direct information either way.

The Government should legislate so that strikes are not allowed in certain public services
Agreed: 46% (incl 20% strongly); 31% disagree (incl 12% strongly); 23% undecided.

The poll also showed that the public would have most sympathy for striking nurses (60%) followed by fire-fighters (55%).

More proof that the public can’t be trusted to tie its own shoelaces. If the Government were to legislate to ban strikes in certain public services (as a plurality agree) where the damn hell do they think this policy would affect? I’d have thought that the fire service and the NHS would be absolute front and centre.

“Public has no idea what it’s saying or doing, poll finds”

I believe if the armed forces had some kind of tool to use as a collective force to bring the government to task over their welfare and pay conditions then they would have had excellent accommodation and a better pay packet decades ago. So I would say that even people in the armed forces should be able to strike with limitations if they fully need to.

@ 3:

You mean mutiny?

More proof that the public can’t be trusted to tie its own shoelaces

Right-wingers try to discredit polls when public at odds with their views, shocker.

Right-wingers try to discredit polls when public at odds with their views, shocker.

The public are at odds with their own views dipstick.

“More proof that the public can’t be trusted to tie its own shoelaces.”

Nice.

@3,

I believe if the armed forces had some kind of tool to use as a collective force to bring the government to task over their welfare and pay conditions

They do, it’s called a military coup.

9. Chaise Guevara

“Sympathy for striking workers was lowest for flight attendants”

Say what? There are people who put up with strikes affecting trains, police, and schools but can’t stand the idea of having to miss breakfast and find the emergency exits for themselves on the two days a year that they get in a plane? Or am I missing something?

9 – See 2.

11. Chaise Guevara

@ 10 (and therefore 2)

Yes, agreed – and I suspect that people don’t sympathise with striking flight attendents because they’ve decided that they are unimportant workers and thus apparently shouldn’t try to protect their working conditions.

12. Mr S. Pill

Re:flight attendants. I suspect this is because workers in (particularly) budget airlines are demonised by the press to a far greater extent than nurses or firefighters will ever be. Also there is an element of snobbery involved I imagine.

13. Chaise Guevara

@ 12 S Pill

That too. Personally, I’d guess that flight attendents have to put up with variable and antisocial hours, plus a certain amount of hassle and harrassment from passengers, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they felt the need to improve their lot. Bet they’re not too well paid, either.

“Though most members are for strikes right now, this suggests unions should keep highlighting the democratic legitimacy of their strikes.”

It would be nice if some of the public sector strikes could point to a turnout that really does show 60% or more of their members voted for a strike. I don’t think union ballots should be legally dependent on turnout, but it does rather undermine the ‘all our members are vehemently in favour of action’ argument when most of them can’t be bothered to vote. Why is turnout so low?

Actually, I think the flight attendants thing is pretty useful for the Left and the organised labour movement.

I can remember when we saw flight attendants as a sort of glamour job. Not like racing car drivers or supermodels, but you know, nice apparently middle class people who got to fly around the World and stay in nice hotels. Of course the ‘best’ flight attendants would have been B.A. Yet it turns out, when push comes to shove when it turns to shit, even flight attendant get it in the neck and management use all the same tools against them that they did against baggage handlers.

I wonder how many flight attendants watched as the baggage handlers got shafted and thought, ‘huh, they wouldn’t dream of doing that to us’. A harsh lesson in labour relations there. Just because you cannot see an apparent connection between you and the next section, when they get pissed on, the urine flows under your desk.

@14
“It would be nice if some of the public sector strikes could point to a turnout that really does show 60% or more of their members voted for a strike. I don’t think union ballots should be legally dependent on turnout, but it does rather undermine the ‘all our members are vehemently in favour of action’ argument when most of them can’t be bothered to vote. Why is turnout so low”?

Most local councils are elected with fewer numbers. Should we question their legitimacy too?

@16
Yes

(Isn’t that why we’re all for voting reform?)

18. Senorviva

When flight attendants go on strike peoples’ holiday plans are disrupted (for which they have worked hard and saved). There is still a general perception that being a flight attendant is a glamorous job (given the frequency with which the papers list the perks that are supposed to form part of an attendant’s remuneration). When there’s a tube strike in London many people don’t make it into work (and may well not bother trying) – if they don’t lose the day’s pay what’s to complain about?

Bottom line: people are very happy to be for or against something in principle but when it has a direct adverse effect on their lives, they are more likely to give a contrary view.

I cannot tie my own shoe laces thats a problem for me I’m disabled , but I suspect in the future disabled people will need to strike to prove to people we need help, mind you since most of us cannot find a job, I suspect we will have to hand around under some bridge, after hanging our selves, I suspect Miliband will support that, less benefits to pay out.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Against strikes? Actually, people support unions http://bit.ly/kiGzVM

  2. Ceehaitch

    Against strikes? Actually, people support unions http://bit.ly/kiGzVM

  3. David Dubost

    Against strikes? Actually, people support unions http://bit.ly/kiGzVM

  4. Dr. Ben Wright

    Strikes a legitimate protest but can we please have agreement among union members and less public service disruption: http://goo.gl/6RUqg

  5. sunny hundal

    Shock as it turns out public is more supportive of union strikes than newspaper commentators think http://bit.ly/kiGzVM

  6. Seyyed Sedighi

    Shock as it turns out public is more supportive of union strikes than newspaper commentators think http://bit.ly/kiGzVM

  7. Claire Butler

    Shock as it turns out public is more supportive of union strikes than newspaper commentators think http://bit.ly/kiGzVM

  8. Scott Redding

    Shock as it turns out public is more supportive of union strikes than newspaper commentators think http://bit.ly/kiGzVM

  9. salardeen

    “@sunny_hundal: Shock as it turns out public is more supportive of union strikes than newspaper commentators think http://t.co/JmjYgCl”AGREE

  10. yorkierosie

    “@sunny_hundal: Shock as it turns out public is more supportive of union strikes than newspaper commentators think http://t.co/JmjYgCl”AGREE

  11. STUC

    RT @libcon: Against strikes? Actually, people support unions http://bit.ly/kiGzVM

  12. A Better Way

    RT @libcon: Against strikes? Actually, people support unions http://bit.ly/kiGzVM

  13. Oxford Kevin

    MT @sunny_hundal Public more supportive of strikes than newspaper commentators think http://t.co/2xUGOA8 << doing their best 2 "fix" that

  14. Aaron Stebbings

    Shock as it turns out public is more supportive of union strikes than newspaper commentators think http://bit.ly/kiGzVM

  15. malcolm

    Shock as it turns out public is more supportive of union strikes than newspaper commentators think http://bit.ly/kiGzVM

  16. Clive Burgess

    Shock as it turns out public is more supportive of union strikes than newspaper commentators think http://bit.ly/kiGzVM

  17. Clive Burgess

    Against strikes? Actually, people support unions http://bit.ly/kiGzVM

  18. Austin G Mackell

    despite the myth of resentment, people support #unions: http://bit.ly/jHyy8e

  19. Jill Hayward

    Shock as it turns out public is more supportive of union strikes than newspaper commentators think http://bit.ly/kiGzVM

  20. Pam Field

    Shock as it turns out public is more supportive of union strikes than newspaper commentators think http://bit.ly/kiGzVM

  21. DarkestAngel

    Shock as it turns out public is more supportive of union strikes than newspaper commentators think http://bit.ly/kiGzVM

  22. Sarah Baskerville

    #pcs RT @Rural_Revolt It turns out the public is more supportive of union strikes than newspaper commentators think http://bit.ly/kiGzVM

  23. Paul Beattie

    #pcs RT @Rural_Revolt It turns out the public is more supportive of union strikes than newspaper commentators think http://bit.ly/kiGzVM

  24. Peter Underwood

    Shock as it turns out public is more supportive of union strikes than newspaper commentators think http://bit.ly/kiGzVM

  25. Labour Broadheath

    Shock as it turns out public is more supportive of union strikes than newspaper commentators think http://bit.ly/kiGzVM

  26. Paul Rooke

    Against strikes? Actually, people support unions | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/vqLV1Ca via @libcon #SOLIDARITY #CONdemsOUT

  27. Nick Statham

    Shock as it turns out public is more supportive of union strikes than newspaper commentators think http://bit.ly/kiGzVM

  28. James Goodhew

    Shock as it turns out public is more supportive of union strikes than newspaper commentators think http://bit.ly/kiGzVM

  29. Noxi

    Shock as it turns out public is more supportive of union strikes than newspaper commentators think http://bit.ly/kiGzVM RT @sunny_hundal:

  30. frameofmind

    Shock as it turns out public is more supportive of union strikes than newspaper commentators think http://bit.ly/kiGzVM RT @sunny_hundal:

  31. STUC Women's Cttee

    RT @libcon: Against strikes? Actually, people support unions http://bit.ly/kiGzVM

  32. Rosie

    Shock as it turns out public is more supportive of union strikes than newspaper commentators think http://bit.ly/kiGzVM

  33. Matthew Taylor

    Contrast: this ComRes poll (ht @fullabeanz) http://t.co/CHmzv9g with @libcon's piece on public support for strikes http://t.co/PUB3nbD

  34. Pozorvlak

    Contrast: this ComRes poll (ht @fullabeanz) http://t.co/CHmzv9g with @libcon's piece on public support for strikes http://t.co/PUB3nbD

  35. Michael Holt

    Contrast: this ComRes poll (ht @fullabeanz) http://t.co/CHmzv9g with @libcon's piece on public support for strikes http://t.co/PUB3nbD

  36. Owen Jones

    There's a huge base of support for strike action http://t.co/b0sudc3 There's even massive support for political strikes http://t.co/CCArqwK

  37. Sam Dodsworth

    There's a huge base of support for strike action http://t.co/b0sudc3 There's even massive support for political strikes http://t.co/CCArqwK

  38. Kayleigh Anne

    There's a huge base of support for strike action http://t.co/b0sudc3 There's even massive support for political strikes http://t.co/CCArqwK

  39. Karl Davis

    There's a huge base of support for strike action http://t.co/b0sudc3 There's even massive support for political strikes http://t.co/CCArqwK

  40. Gez Kirby

    There's a huge base of support for strike action http://t.co/b0sudc3 There's even massive support for political strikes http://t.co/CCArqwK

  41. Daniel Carden

    There's a huge base of support for strike action http://t.co/b0sudc3 There's even massive support for political strikes http://t.co/CCArqwK

  42. Shropshire YFFJ

    There's a huge base of support for strike action http://t.co/b0sudc3 There's even massive support for political strikes http://t.co/CCArqwK

  43. Tom Ashworth

    There's a huge base of support for strike action http://t.co/b0sudc3 There's even massive support for political strikes http://t.co/CCArqwK

  44. More polls show support for union strikes but media ignores them | Liberal Conspiracy

    […] media ignores them by Sunny Hundal     June 22, 2011 at 9:01 am Yesterday afternoon I pointed to a Populus poll, largely ignored by the media, showing widespread support amongst the public for […]

  45. Tamsin

    RT @OwenJones84 Huge base of support for strike action http://t.co/4Y8VyfC Massive support for political strikes http://t.co/pYybLfX #J30

  46. StarSparkle

    RT @OwenJones84 Huge base of support for strike action http://t.co/4Y8VyfC Massive support for political strikes http://t.co/pYybLfX #J30

  47. Tom Fox

    public supports strikes: http://t.co/5EtQEmp and the right to political strikes: http://t.co/h3y4Edj #J30 #strike

  48. ??doo? ???????

    Poll suggests people are more supportive of strike plans than Tory press would like you to believe. http://bit.ly/mK58E9

  49. Walton Pantland

    Against strikes? Actually, people support unions | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/1S3jJ01 via @libcon

  50. Glasgow Green Party

    Against strikes? Actually, people support unions | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/1S3jJ01 via @libcon

  51. HullRePublic

    There's a huge base of support for strike action http://t.co/b0sudc3 There's even massive support for political strikes http://t.co/CCArqwK

  52. Daniel Pitt

    Against strikes? Actually, people support unions http://t.co/AmBfqVR #ConDemNation

  53. J.E.S.

    Against strikes? Actually, people support unions http://t.co/AmBfqVR #ConDemNation

  54. Naomi Colvin

    Populus polling: UK support for public-sector strikes is higher than you might think http://bit.ly/jBwQfW #J30 #j30strike #ukuncut

  55. Naomi Colvin

    Populus polling: UK support for public-sector strikes is higher than you might think http://bit.ly/jBwQfW #J30 #j30strike #ukuncut

  56. Balder Baer

    Populus polling: UK support for public-sector strikes is higher than you might think http://bit.ly/jBwQfW #J30 #j30strike #ukuncut

  57. Balder Baer

    Populus polling: UK support for public-sector strikes is higher than you might think http://bit.ly/jBwQfW #J30 #j30strike #ukuncut

  58. Fredrik Walloe

    RT @auerfeld: Populus polling: UK support for public-sector strikes is higher than you might think http://bit.ly/jBwQfW #J30 #j30strike

  59. Linda Marric

    Populus polling: UK support for public-sector strikes is higher than you might think http://bit.ly/jBwQfW #J30 #j30strike #ukuncut

  60. David Powell

    Populus polling: UK support for public-sector strikes is higher than you might think http://bit.ly/jBwQfW #J30 #j30strike #ukuncut

  61. SSP Campsie

    Populus polling: UK support for public-sector strikes is higher than you might think http://bit.ly/jBwQfW #J30 #j30strike #ukuncut

  62. A Brief Report from the Unite the Resistance Public Meeting on the 28th: Preparing for a Protracted Battle « A Scanner Despairingly

    […] workers and there is some support among the public for strike action (I’d look here and here) so there is every reason to believe this is a viable […]

  63. James Leppard

    @TheBusymale the average public sector pension only pays out a few thousand pounds – Populus says otherwise http://t.co/6hEfKuas

  64. LabourLeft (GEER)

    @TheBusymale the average public sector pension only pays out a few thousand pounds – Populus says otherwise http://t.co/6hEfKuas





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