'Strikes handled badly'

July 05, 2011, 7:48 PM GMT+0

The majority of British people think Prime Minister David Cameron handled the recent public sector strikes badly, our poll has revealed, and almost as many think leader of the opposition Ed Miliband reacted just as poorly.

In addition, more than half of people believe that the Government was acting unreasonably in the disagreements with trade unions; while just over a third think that it was being reasonable.

  • 53% of British people believe that David Cameron has handled last week’s strikes by teachers and civil servants badly
  • While just 28% say that he handled the situation well
  • Similarly, 49% of people think that Ed Miliband handled the public sector strikes badly
  • And only 19% think that he dealt with the circumstances well
  • Overall, 51% of people say that the Government are acting unreasonably in its disagreements with the trade unions
  • While only 36% think the Government is acting reasonably
  • Opinion is more divided over the trade unions, with 43% believing that they are acting reasonably in the situation
  • And 46% concluding that they are acting unreasonably

The poll comes as a number of strikes took place last week over disputes revolving around public sector pensions. Two teaching unions, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) alongside the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), were part of the industrial action which saw the closure of thousands of schools, colleges and government offices last Thursday.

Both Prime Minister David Cameron and leader of the opposition Ed Miliband have faced criticism for their handling of the disagreements between the Government and trades unions. Just days prior to the strike action last week Cameron told public sector workers that striking was a mistake. He stated that striking was ‘wrong for you, for the people you serve and for the good of the country. The changes we propose are right, right by the taxpayer but, above all, right by you.’ He also reiterated his opinion that reform was ‘essential’ to prevent the pension system ‘going broke’.

Ed Miliband has been widely criticised over the release of interview footage that shows him using almost exactly the same scripted answer repeatedly in response to six different questions about public sector strikes. Damon Green, the ITV News correspondent who conducted the interview with the leader of the opposition, commented that the footage was ‘so absurd’ that the un-edited version needed to be uploaded on to video-sharing website YouTube ‘to be laughed at along with all the clips of cats falling off sofas’.