TUC poll reveals extent of public sector retention crisis

Nearly two-fifths of public sector workers are actively considering leaving the profession or have already taken steps to leave

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Nearly two-fifths of public sector workers are actively considering leaving the profession or have already taken steps to leave, a poll by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has revealed.

In the poll of 1,000 public sector workers, pay was a major factor for considering leaving, with almost half (46%) of those polled citing this as the main reason for quitting.

Feeling undervalued came in second at 27%, then poor work life balance (23%) and a lack of career progression (23%) cited as further factors in people leaving the sector.

Implications of the Strikes Bill was also considered a big factor in making public servants more likely to leave their job in the next three years, with nearly two-fifths (37%) finding this the case.  

The average public servant currently earns £200 a month less, in real terms, than in 2010, according to the TUC.

The union body said huge staff vacancies, on top of a decade of underfunding, have left public services ‘on their knees’.

Regarding the cost-of-living crisis, nearly half (47%) of those polled said they are cutting back on food bills whilst 1 in 2 (45%) said their household will struggle to afford household essentials in the next six months.  

TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak said if the situation is not resolved, ‘crippling frontline services’ will only get worse.

Nowak said: “We’ve all heard stories of ambulances not arriving in time or people having to wait for months for vital operations. 

“Meanwhile kids are being taught in crumbling classrooms and cash-starved local councils are struggling to provide even basic services.

“Our public services do not have the capacity or the funding to keep up with demand.”

He called on the government to boost public service investment, including staff pay, in order to ease the staffing crisis and ‘lay the foundations for a stronger economy in the years ahead’.

He also commented on the government’s ‘divide and rule’ tactics over pay, saying ‘unions won’t rest until every single public sector worker gets fair pay’.

TUC repeated its call on the government to give every key worker in the public sector a fair pay rise and to invest in public services, reversing any stealth cuts planned for future years and fully funding pay rises.

The poll by Opinium included 1,000 public sector workers polled between 8-13 March.

Hannah Davenport is trade union reporter at Left Foot Forward

Left Foot Forward’s trade union reporting is supported by the Barry Amiel and Norman Melburn Trust

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