November 16, 2002

A survey of citizens’ opinions on the national firefighters’ strike appeared in the UK’s The Timestoday. The subtle yet deliberate wording chosen reveals just how parochial the “independent” press can be. To prove the point, we’ve provided our own counter-editorial (in italics) using the same stats. Of course it’s biased – but is it really any less so than the original?

Whilst the poll itself is not particularly robust (it was a telephone survey of only 593 people out of a population of more than 60 million), it nonetheless points to widespread support for firefighters in their fight against the Blair Government. Remember, this poll was taken after the first 48-hour national strike had begun, and week before the next 8-day strike was scheduled to commence.

Also interesting (though it was downplayed somewhat by The Times) was the stat which showed that 39% of those surveyed became more sympathetic to the firefighters as a result of their strike action, whilst only 23% were less supportive of the FBU following the stoppage. This runs contrary the popular view, as it suggests that the firefighters won more public support, rather than lost it, after finally walking off the job.

Whether or not these statistics have relevance here in NSW is obviously open to debate. The one thing that we can be sure of is that the press (and Government) here will attempt to do every bit as much of a job on your Union as they have on the FBU if we ever find ourselves in the same situation.

Stay United!

Chris Read
State Secretary
Saturday, 16th November, 2002

Huge majority say firemen should stop their strikes

20 million support further fire strikes

TWO THIRDS of the public believe that the firefighters should abandon strike action and negotiate around last week’s 11 per cent pay offer, according to the first test of opinion since the 48-hour stoppage began.

Over twenty million people believe that the firefighters should continue their strike action and fight on for their 40% pay claim, according to the first test of opinion since the 48-hour stoppage began.

Sixty-three per cent of the public agree with the Government that the strike should be called off, and 33 per cent disagree in the survey commissioned by The Times.

33 per cent of the public agree with the FBU that firefighters should push on with their industrial campaign, and 63 per cent agree with the survey commissioned by The Times.

There remains evidence of public sympathy for the firefighters. Thirty-nine per cent of those questioned said that this week’s stoppage has made them more sympathetic to the firemen, and 23 per cent less sympathetic.

Public sympathy for the firefighters is growing. Thirty-nine per cent of those questioned said that this week’s stoppage has made them more sympathetic to the firefighters, and only 23 per cent less sympathetic.

The survey by the pollsters Live Strategy suggests that women are slightly more sympathetic than men to the firefighters, and that older people strongly want the strike to be abandoned.

The survey by the pollsters Live Strategy suggests that women are slightly more sympathetic than men to the firefighters, and that older people strongly want the Government to settle the dispute.