Voters of all stripes support the right to strike of postal workers – but for teachers there are stark political divides
In light of announcements by the main postal and teaching unions that they intend to take industrial action against privatisation and pay, YouGov research from April found broad support for the right to strike of postal workers, but sharp divides over whether it applies to teachers.
Most of the British public support the right to strike for post office workers (64%), bus drivers (64%), refuse collectors (61%), railway and underground workers (60%), social workers (57%) and teachers (53%). Of these there is least consensus over whether the right applies to teachers, though, as over a third (37%) believe it does not.
More of the public think workers “should not have the right to strike” than should when it comes to the armed forces (55%-34%), police officers (54%-36%), (51%-39%) doctors, and prison officers (49%-40%).
For Conservative voters, support for the right to strike only outnumbers opposition when it comes to bus drivers (49%-41%) and post office workers (50%-43%). For Labour voters, in contrast, support for the right outnumbers opposition in every sector, and there is only one area where a majority do not think the right applies: the armed forces (49% support, 42% oppose). The right of teachers to strike is a battle-ground issue however: while 74% of Labour and 63% of Lib Dems support it, 60% of Conservatives and 52% of UKIP oppose it.
The Communication Workers Union, which represents postal workers, has threatened strike action following this week’s privatisation of the Royal Mail, saying that it was “unwanted by public, customers and the workers.” NASUWT and the National Union of Teachers have also confirmed they will stage a one-day strike later in the year, protesting pay, conditions and pensions.