Almost three quarters (72%) of Conservative voters in the 2019 general election agree that pay gaps are too large as an argument in favour of strikes, according to new polling from the Fairness Foundation. This is compared to eight in ten Labour voters (81%).
The same poll also showed that, as arguments in favour of strikes, three in five Tory voters (62%) agree that some workers’ pay is too low for them to have a decent standard of living, and three fifths of Tory voters (61%) agree that most of the new wealth being created goes to people who are already wealthy. Even more Labour voters agree, with eight in ten supporting these arguments (78% and 79% respectively).
The results provide strong evidence that the strikes and public attitudes to them demonstrate the severity of the underlying problems caused by an absence of fairness in our society and economy. They 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.
Will Snell, chief executive of the Fairness Foundation, said:
“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 feel they are able to thrive - not just survive - and have access to the high-quality public services that they deserve.”
Other key findings from the polling on how adults in Great Britain feel about strikes include:
- Six in seven GB adults (86%) think that people not being able to meet their basic needs (due to issues such as low pay or inadequate housing) is a major or moderate issue, while 83% say the same for people being unable to access decent public services;
- Two in three Tory voters (67%) agree that workers’ pay is not keeping up with inflation, compared to eight in ten Labour voters (80%);
- Three in five Tory voters (58%) agree that many people are working hard but lack decent working conditions and job security, compared to eight in ten Labour voters (79%);
- Three in five Tory voters (58%) agree that key workers are not rewarded enough for their contribution to society, compared to eight in ten Labour voters (79%);
- There is some unity between Remain and Leave voters: 77% of both groups think the pay gap between top and bottom is too high, while 69% of both groups think most of the new wealth that is being created is going to people who are already wealthy;
- The view that everyone should be able to access essential public services (78%) is the most agreed-with fairness argument against the strikes.
Martin O'Neill, Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of York, said in an expert commentary published with the findings: “The data presented in these polling results gives us a strikingly bleak snapshot of a country that is now systematically failing to deliver for its citizens on even the most basic standards of fairness and social justice… This is a picture of a society in which the social contract between individuals and the state has effectively broken down.”
- The full report, Striking a nerve, is available online at https://fairnessfoundation.com/striking-a-nerve.
- The Fairness Foundation aims to change the terms of the public debate about fairness, to promote the benefits of a fair society, and to inspire citizens, organisations and decision-makers to create a fairer society. For more information see https://fairnessfoundation.com.
- Fieldwork was carried out by Opinium between 18 and 20 January, with a nationally representative sample of 2,003 GB adults, weighted to nationally representative criteria and various political criteria. The order of options presented in each question was randomised.
- Demographic breakdowns are available for every answer to every question, covering voting intention, 2019 general election vote, 2016 referendum vote, gender, age, region, ethnicity, level of education, social grade, household income, employment status and area (city/town/suburb/village). You can find the full data sets at https://fairnessfoundation.sharepoint.com/:x:/g/EXmI1umYYTtEv_QpGVYsyrcBcttUzHhvieQLwjl-pK9dsg?e=BSealY.
- Interviews with Will Snell, chief executive of the Fairness Foundation, are available.
- Please contact Becky Slack at firstname.lastname@example.org or on +44 (0)7854221568.