Burning the Candle at Both Ends

Burning the Candle at Both Ends

Unite has undertaken groundbreaking research covering over 13,000 workers demonstrating the effect that long hours is having on the health and the lives of workers and their families in the passenger transport, construction and lorry driving sectors.

Workers are having their physical and mental health shredded by a long hours’ culture which typically results in workers working over 50 hours a week and for at least six days a week.

Roughly three quarters of workers (74-76 per cent) said that long hours had affected their physical health, while over half between (50-58 per cent) across the three sectors, said their mental health had been adversely affected.

Long hours is clearly not compatible with a decent work life balance. Across the three sectors roughly three quarters (73-80 per cent) report and their relationships and family life had been damaged by excessive hours.

The anonymous testimonies of workers suffering the effects of long hours are harrowing including:

“One divorce and can’t remember my kids growing up”’

“I am currently on antidepressants and I’m tired and stressed out a lot.”

“I’m under investigation and constantly monitored which makes my home life hard because I’m always worried and can’t sleep, awake most of the night worrying about what has happened in work today and what will happen tomorrow, been made to feel suicidal many times.”

Each sector has different challenges and different solutions. However Unite is calling for the implementation of five policies which will help tackle the long hours culture which is having such a destructive effect on the lives of workers:

  1. Better pay – a wage workers can live on
  2. Fair work rotas
  3. Shorter hours/shifts – with no loss of pay
  4. Access and recognition of trade unions
  5. Stronger workplace rights and protections

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