As London prepares to deal with a 24 hour London Underground strike from this evening onwards, it seems that despite the inconvenience to many it is sure to cause, the majority of the British public still generally supports transport workers’ right to strike.
In our survey of the 9th August, 60% felt that railway and Underground workers should have the right to strike, compared to just 31% who disagreed.
Cuts to safety?
The strike is part of a protest against plans to cut 800 jobs and will also address grievances over pay and conditions. Despite London Underground (LU)’s assurances that ‘there will be no compulsory redundancies’, RMT general secretary Bob Crow said that 'It's down to LU to pull [us] back from the brink of their ill-conceived cuts plans and to clear the way for meaningful discussions that protect safety and safe staffing levels.’ He also maintains that ‘LU management knew very well that meaningful talks could not proceed while the threat of cuts to safety and safe staffing levels hung over our members' heads.’
Londoners losing out
However, it seems that Londoners, many of whom are largely or entirely reliant on public transport, of which the famous London Underground ‘tube’ network forms a key part, are less amenable to the idea of railway workers striking. Just 48% of those living in London feel that these workers should be allowed to strike, while 40% do not. This compares to 71% of Scottish residents who would grant railway workers the right to strike, and 69% of those in the North, 62% in the Midlands and Wales, and 54% in the rest of the South who feel the same.
Indeed, the topic has risen on the TellYouGov leaderboard as those affected complain of the disruption. With a score of -40, comments on the topic include 'why do we put up with tube strikes in this day & age' when they 'grind London to a standstill?', perhaps hinting at things to come.
Having said that, railway workers do receive more support for their right to strike in comparison to workers in other occupations. Nurses had 40% support, while prison officers found 37% and doctors received 32%. The public felt the armed forces should be the least able to strike, with just 29% in support of their having the right.
But with tonight’s strike set to hit rush-hour commuters from 5pm onwards, it remains to be seen whether Londoners will feel the same come this evening.