Right to strike?

August 13, 2010, 12:45 AM GMT+0

The British public would support public sector workers, such as bus drivers and refuse collectors, having the right to strike, but is less willing to support the right for services such as the police and the armed forces, recent research for the Sunday Times has found.

When asked which professions should have the right to strike, the public was most likely to support the rights of bus drivers (63%), railway and underground workers (60%), refuse collectors (57%), teachers (52%) and social workers (52%).

However, the public was less than happy to see nurses walk out (41%), followed by prison officers (37%), doctors (32%) and those in the armed forces (29%). Police officers received the least support: only 27% thought they should be able to strike.

The results come following suggestions that people working in certain front-line public services should be banned from taking strike action.
Unsurprisingly, responses differed by party, with Labour supporters consistently the most likely group to support the right to strike action, averaging at 62% support across all eleven occupations listed in the survey. Conservative voters were the least likely to support the right to strike, with an average of 34% in favour across all public sector jobs given.

The results suggest that while the public seems generally amenable, or at least not hostile, to the idea of striking, support is lowest for workers in the front-line professions concerned with public safety and national security.

Survey details and full results