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Our new polling on attitudes to fairness and the strikes
Two in three people in Britain agree with the key fairness arguments in favour of the strikes
The huge CEO-worker pay gap is the most popular fairness argument for strikes
What is the relationship between people’s views about the rights and wrongs of strikes and their views about the key principles of fairness, and the extent to which those are met in today’s Britain? How do those views vary across different groups in society and in relation to different groups of workers?
Our new report, based on polling carried out by Opinium for the Fairness Foundation in January 2023, finds that a large majority (80%) of the British public are concerned about the state of the nation, with even higher levels of concern about people meeting their basic needs (86%) and about the state of public services (83%).
This explains why two in three people in Britain agree with the key fairness arguments in favour of the strikes (with still higher levels of agreement about falling real-terms pay and pay gap between ordinary workers and chief executives). Almost three quarters of 2019 Conservative voters (and eight in ten Labour voters) agree that pay gaps are too large as an argument in favour of strikes. Concern about public services is also the most agreed-with fairness argument against the strikes.
Support for different groups of striking workers varies, and it is beyond the scope of this research to disentangle all of the reasons for this. But the results provide additional evidence that the strikes themselves, and public attitudes to them, demonstrate the severity of the underlying problems caused by an absence of fairness in our society and economy. They also show that, while public support for strikes is quite divided (in line with the results of previous polling), the public is much more united when it comes to basic principles of fairness.
My take on the polling is as follows:
Our poll shows that a large majority of the British public are concerned with the issues around fairness we put forward, including the state of public services and people’s ability to meet their basic needs. When it comes to strikes, most people are aware of the large disparities in wealth and living standards, and think that Britain has fundamental issues with equality and fairness. This is why two in three Brits agree with the key fairness arguments in favour of the strikes. If politicians of all parties want to avoid widespread industrial action in the future, they would do well to find ways to build a fairer society, in which people can thrive - not just survive - and have access to the high-quality public services that they deserve.
The full report is available on our website, and includes:
Graphs (example below) and analysis of our polling results
Video vox pops from some of our survey respondents
Summaries of other polling on attitudes to strikes
An expert commentary from Martin O’Neill, Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of York
Links to relevant information sources, including recent reports and books
Links to detailed demographic breakdowns and cross-breaks