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The public backs laws to protect transport workers' right to strike and share beliefs that governments should protect transport workers' employment rights

news Press Release 09 Dec 2022

The public overwhelmingly supports union demands on transport and a larger percentage share believes governments are failing their citizens in handling transport issues generally (43% doing well vs 48% doing badly), according to a world-wide poll published by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) today.

A survey into attitudes to transport, conducted by YouGov in September this year of 16,464 people across 15 countries, showed widespread recognition of the critical role played by transport, and transport workers. The view that the world’s economy relies on transport workers for the movement of goods and people was supported by 81%. 

“We’re calling for urgent action on six demands to solve underlying problems in global transport,” said Stephen Cotton, General Secretary of the ITF. “Our 2022 Global Poll shows that the vast majority of the public believes these demands make sense for better transport systems and policies. At the same time, they blame their governments. A whopping 83% want their government to increase access to transport, while nearly half (48%) think the government is handling transport badly in their country.”

On health and safety, 85% of people want their government to improve laws to protect transport workers, while 87% want their law-makers to protect transport workers from violence and harassment.

On the environment, 80% want their government to increase investment in sustainable transport infrastructure, and 79% want national plans in place to lower emissions in the transport sector. 

Erosion of labour standards

“Around the world, governments have allowed businesses to compete unchecked, with little protection for workers across their supply chains,” said Cotton. “Governments have ripped up labour safeguards to encourage competition. Labour standards across the transport industry have been worn away as businesses look to slash costs.”

People want businesses to be more accountable, the poll shows. It reveals that 81% would support laws that hold companies to account for environmental and labour rights abuses in their transport supply chains.

“It is time now to act,” said Cotton, “and the public is clearly behind that. With a convergence of crises including the pandemic, climate change and the cost of living, increased government investment in transport is vital. If it’s done right, in a way that protects the rights of transport workers, it can be a driver for social, political and economic change.” 

Investment for good

In the survey, 81% want their government to invest in job creation for the transport sector.  66% believe the transport industry would be better off if there was greater involvement from transport workers in decision making. 

On equality, two-thirds believe that the economic system in their country favours the wealthy and 77% believe transport is important for making economies fairer.

“With strikes looming in the UK, France, Australia, and elsewhere, it is heartening to see the public is behind transport workers,” said Cotton. 67% support laws that protect transport workers’ right to strike. 83% want their government to protect transport worker employment rights and 85% think it’s important that transport workers should have protections regardless of where they work. 

Union demands have overwhelming public support

  1. Safety for transport workers85% of people want their government to improve health and safety laws to protect transport workers. 
  2. Making transport sustainable81% people want their government to increase investment in sustainable transport. 
  3. Corporate accountability in global supply chains80% people want their government to end abuse of transport workers in supply chains. 
  4. Giving workers a say in the future of work81% want their governments to invest in transport jobs. 
  5. Equality for transport workers77% believe transport is important for reducing economic inequality. 
  6. Rights for transport workers83% want their government to protect transport worker employment rights.  

Notes for Editors:

The ITF Global Poll 2022 surveyed 16,464 people in 15 countries: 1,021 adults in Argentina (based around urban areas), 1,074 in Australia, 1,002 in Brazil (around urban areas), 1,105 in Canada, 1,108 in France, 1,113 in Germany, 1,125 in India (online only), 1,099 in Mexico (around urban areas), 1,040 in Morocco, 1,055 in The Philippines (online only), 1,018 in South Africa (around urban areas), 1,040 in South Korea, 1,023 in Turkey (around urban areas), 1,554 in the United Kingdom, and 1,087 in the United States of America. Fieldwork was undertaken by YouGov between 15-27 September 2022, the survey was conducted online and figures have been weighted and are representative of the adult population in each country (18+). Quotas were used to reflect national proportions in terms of age, gender and region.

About the ITF: The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) is a democratic, affiliate-led federation of transport workers’ unions recognised as the world’s leading transport authority. We fight passionately to improve working lives; connecting trade unions and workers’ networks from 147 countries to secure rights, equality and justice for their members. We are the voice of the almost-20 million women and men who move the world.

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