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Support for rail strikes falling but remains high - Savanta

Chris Hopkins Political Research Director 14 December 2022

• Net support for railway workers striking over pay and conditions fallen 8pts since October (+21 28-30 Oct vs +13 9-11 Dec)
• Over half (56%) say railway workers should not strike during the holiday period; a third (33%) say they should
• Four in ten (40%) blame the government for the railway strikes, just over a third (37%) blame the trade unions and only 11% blame the workers themselves

Net support for railway workers taking industrial action over pay and conditions has fallen by 8pts since the end of October, according to a new poll from Savanta.

The figures, which calculates those that support, minus those who oppose to get a net support figure, fell from +21 in October to just +13 now. In that period, the RMT union announced further strikes over December and the festive period.

Over half (56%) say railway workers should not take industrial action during the holiday period, a 4pt increase from just two weeks ago at the end of November. A third (33%) say railway workers should strike during the holiday period, a drop of 2pts during the same period.

As Christmas nears, weather disrupts normal travel and rumours flurry of further rail strikes in January, it remains uncertain over whether the standoff between the unions and the government will end. Four in ten (40%) blame the government for railway workers taking industrial action, while a similar proportion (37%) blame the unions representing the workers. Only one in ten (11%) blame the railway workers themselves for the strikes, indicating the public do have some sympathy for the workers.

Mick Lynch, the RMT’s General Secretary, has a net favourability score of -1 (28% favourable, 29% unfavourable).

A third (34%) say they sympathise with those disrupted by strikes more than the workers themselves, while a quarter (24%) sympathise with the workers taking industrial action more. A third (35%), however, sympathise with both equally, indicating public opinion has not swayed dramatically against railway workers despite the increase in strikes.

Commenting on the findings, Chris Hopkins, Political Research Director at Savanta ComRes says,

“Despite the increase in industrial action so far through December, public support for striking workers is relatively unchanged, with some minor drops in net support for postal workers, railway workers and nurses since October.”

“There is a chance that increased disruption, particularly in the healthcare sector, could increase general opposition towards striking workers, while further travel disruption over Christmas could still tip the balance of favour back towards the government, but for now, the public are not hugely inconvenienced by the strikes, and generally have sympathy for the cause.”

Methodology: Savanta interviewed 2,134 UK adults aged 18+ online on 09–11 December 2022. Data were weighted to be representative of all UK adults by age, sex, region and SEG. Savanta is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

Full tables available here

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