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The public are split over support for the train strikes, a poll has found

As workers walk out for a second time on Thursday, Brits are divided over the strikes - and have the most sympathy for passengers.

railway strike action

Strike action has left just a fifth of train services running for three days this week. Image: Samuel Regan Asante / Unsplash

Railway workers are walking out for a second time on Thursday over job cuts, pay and conditions, and polls show public opinion towards the train strikes remains divided.

Around 35 per cent of Brits quizzed by pollsters Ipsos said they supported the walkout, while the same percentage said they oppose it.

But once the reasons for the strikes were explained to the 1,000 Brits being polled, support grew with 41 per cent backing striking workers while just over a third continued to oppose the industrial action.

Talks between the RMT union and Network Rail are ongoing ahead of a third planned day of action on Saturday, but there is no sign of an agreement to end the strike. RMT boss Mick Lynch warned on Thursday that more action beyond Saturday is “extremely likely”.

Keiran Pedley, director of politics at Ipsos, said: “As it stands, the public are divided over whether they support or oppose the current rail strikes, with younger Britons and Labour voters more supportive and older Britons and Conservatives typically more opposed. Passengers receive the most sympathy from the public, although a majority sympathise with railway workers too.”

In total, 86 per cent of the Brits polled by Ipsos said they had sympathy with rail passengers while 62 per cent said their thoughts were with railway workers. There was a bigger divide over railway unions – 44 per cent of people express sympathy for unions while 47 per cent were less sympathetic.

Less sympathy was reserved for the UK government with only a quarter of those polled showing compassion for ministers’ role in the strikes.

There was more acceptance of the need for trade unions to protect workers interests. In total, 85 per cent said unions are an important part of supporting workers with almost half those quizzed considering unions’ work very important.

Six in 10 Brits said unions had too little power but a third disagreed.

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Pedley added: “There is a clear public consensus that trade unions are important in protecting workers rights in Britain, although they are often sceptical that past strikers have been worth the disruption caused or have been effective in achieving their aims. Time will tell how public opinion evolves on these particular strikes as the week progresses.”

However, another poll from Savanta ComRes showed more support for the strike with 58 per cent of the 2,336 adults quizzed insisting that the strike was “justified”.

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