Nurses and ambulance workers have the most public support during Britain's winter of strikes

Joanna MorrisData Journalist
December 20, 2022, 2:57 PM GMT+0

Historic nursing strike is backed by two-thirds of the British public

Strike action has dominated the headlines this winter, with nurses, ambulance staff, rail and mail workers among those forming (or planning to form) picket lines recently.

The first ever strike by NHS nurses has the highest level of support among the public, according to a new YouGov poll.

Two-thirds of the British public (66%) say they support the nurses’ strike, with 45% of people saying they “strongly” support it.

Industrial action from ambulance staff is the next most likely to have a high level of support among Britons (63%), while strikes involving firefighters and teachers also have considerable public support (58% and 50% respectively).

At the other end of the scale, striking rail workers attract the most opposition - around half of the public (49%) say they oppose the rail workers’ recent strikes, led by the RMT union.

Similarly unpopular with the public are strikes by driving examiners, university staff and civil servants, with 48% of Britons saying they are in opposition to each of those strikes.

Are the government and trade unions to blame for strikes, or the workers themselves?

Britons think the government is to blame for the majority of strikes, but trade unions are seen as more to blame for strikes by postal, bus, rail and TfL workers.

The government is most likely to be blamed by the public for nurses’ strikes (56% say they are to blame) and ambulance worker strikes (54%), while trade unions are most likely to be blamed for the rail strikes (32%), postal strikes (27%) and action by TfL workers (27%).

While the workers themselves are comparatively unlikely across all parties to shoulder the most blame, 15% of the public say driving examiners are to blame for their strike action, while 14% say the same of university staff and 13% of civil servants.

In the case of strikes by baggage handlers, Britons were more likely to say the organisations they work for are to blame than any other party – 25% blame the companies, while 21% blame trade unions and 21% the government.

Picture: Getty

See full tables here

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