Split support for strikes

June 25, 2011, 12:16 AM GMT+0

The British public is split over whether the National Union of Teachers (NUT), the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) and other public sector workers were right to strike over pension changes, job cuts and a pay freeze, our survey has found.

  • 42% of people oppose the strike action by public sector workers over pension changes, job cuts and a pay freeze
  • While 39% support the announcement of a mass walk-out
  • Labour supporters show most solidarity with the strikes, with 70% expressing their backing
  • On the other hand, Conservative voters are mostly opposed to strike action, with a huge 77% against the proposals
  • Liberal Democrat supporters appear to reflect the majority with a straight split between support and opposition at 38% apiece

‘A sign of failure’

The poll comes as unions announce that the end of June will see planned industrial action over pension changes, job cuts and a pay freeze. The teachers may also be joined by members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) which could lead to up to 750,000 public sector workers striking on the same day.

The walk-out date is set to take place on June 30th, and while some ministers have labelled the action ‘irresponsible’, Labour leader Ed Miliband declared on Twitter: ‘Strikes are a sign of failure on both sides. [The] Government needs to get round table not ramp up rhetoric’.

‘The best offer’?

Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has remarked that it is a ‘colossal mistake’ for unions to reject the Government's current proposed pensions deal, and forgo the best offer they will be made ‘for years to come’. Meanwhile, General Secretary of the PCS Mark Serwotka has said that civil servants are being requested to work up to eight years longer and accept a three-fold rise in their pension contributions, despite their eventual payments being halved.

‘It’s absolute daylight robbery,’ he commented, ‘I don't think it's surprising that people will want to defend themselves, and if you're going to defend yourselves, it obviously makes sense that you make common cause with council workers, health workers and teachers, because we all face the same attacks’.