NHS strike: one in five workers need a second job, poll finds

10 Oct 14
Some 20% of NHS workers need a second job to make ends meet, a survey by trade union Unison has found as strike action takes place across the health service today.

By Mark Smulian | 13 October 2014

Some 20% of NHS workers need a second job to make ends meet, a survey by trade union Unison has found as strike action takes place across the health service today.

NHS staff

Answers from 3,366 members – out of 18,000 surveyed - showed 54% said they were overdrawn every month and half felt they wouldn’t survive without another source of income.

Second jobs taken by NHS workers included posts as lifeguards, hairdressers and dog groomers. Some also worked additional shifts in hospitals.

Despite this extra income, half of respondents said they had to borrow to stay afloat financially with 57% relying on credit cards, and 41% on friends and family, while 13% had resorted to pay day loans.

Unison head of health Christina McAnea said: ‘The government is refusing to acknowledge that there is a real poverty problem affecting NHS workers.

‘A demotivated, stressed workforce is bad for patients and bad for the NHS.’

She added: ‘It’s time NHS workers got a fair deal for the invaluable work they do. The government needs to step back from the brink and reconsider its pay policy urgently.’

Eight trade unions, including the Royal College of Midwives, took part in today’s industrial action – a four hour strike from 7am to 11am.

This will be followed by four days of action short of strikes over the course of the week, when staff will refuse to work through their breaks.

The action follows the decision by the government to not award all NHS workers a 1% pay increase based on the cost of living. Instead, only those not receiving increases through progression will get the rise. 

‘This is the first time in 32 years that NHS workers take industrial action over pay, and for many, it will be the first time,’ McAnea – who is also trade union chair of the NHS Staff Council – said.

‘The fact that so many unions representing a range of NHS workers are taking action today or preparing to join future actions should send a clear message to the government. The NHS relies on the good will of its workers but we know that a demotivated workforce is bad for patients.  The government needs to start negotiating with us and reconsider their pay policy.’

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