Public sector workers across the South-East work £1.6 billion worth of free hours every year, according to a report released today (Wednesday July 26).
New research by GMB, the union for public sector staff, reveals that more of the region’s 267,000 public sector workers regularly work more than eight unpaid hours a week than anywhere else in the country
If public sector workers in the South-East were paid for these hours, they would be owed more than £6,000 on average - equivalent to a 25 per cent pay rise.
And more than 47,000 public sector workers in the South-East regularly work more than 15 hours a week for free – again more than anywhere else in the country.
Public sector workers are almost twice as likely to work unpaid overtime than their private sector counterparts.
GMB warns public sector staff were working ‘dangerous’ levels of extra hours.
Midwives and social workers were two of the hardest hit public sector occupations, with almost four in ten typically putting in unpaid hours.
A quarter of people in school support staff roles, such as teaching assistants and school secretaries, also regularly worked unpaid.
Paul Maloney, GMB Regional Secretary, said: “Philip Hammond says that public sector workers are ‘overpaid’ but these shocking new figures show just how out of touch he is.
“Public sector workers are the backbone of the South-East– working above and beyond their contracted hours because they are committed to jobs they love.
“Yet the Government rewards their dedication with crippling real-terms pay cuts.
“Ministers think they can push staff indefinitely, but low pay, unmanageable workloads and stress are pushing many of our members to the limit.
“Unpaid hours mean that thousands across the South-East are effectively earning below the minimum wage, especially in the care sector.
“The reality is that public services in the region are held together by the devotion of overworked and underappreciated employees, who are effectively handing the Government £1.6 billion worth of their labour for free.
“It’s frankly patronising and ill-informed to dismiss calls for wages increases when millions of salaries would rise by a quarter if payslips genuinely reflected all hours worked.
“Enough is enough - it’s time to tackle ever rising workloads and give our public sector workers the real pay rises they desperately need and deserve.”