Union warns of city nurse exodus due to rail fare hike

Nurses commuting to work in cities could be forced to leave their jobs because of rail fare hikes, a union has warned.

Nurses commuting to work in cities could be forced to leave their jobs because of rail fare hikes, a union has warned.

The 3.6% hike in rail fares would hit key workers the hardest, says Unison. Picture: iStock

Unison said the 3.6% increase to fares, including commuter and season tickets, would hit key workers the hardest.

Nurses and other workers are already struggling to make ends meet due to public sector pay restraint, Unison’s head of health Sara Gorton said.


Ms Gorton told the Observer newspaper: ‘Wage freezes have penalised public-service employees who are struggling to keep up with rising costs, including housing. Increased rail fares will only make their situation worse.

‘The concern is that staff including nurses, cleaners and teaching assistants will be driven away from jobs in some cities. Some are already telling us they’re planning to quit. The situation in rural areas isn’t much better.

‘Public transport often isn’t available and workers are priced out by people moving in.’

Rail fares are linked to the July retail prices index which hit 3.6% last month, according to data released by the Office for National Statistics last week. The rise in fares is due to take into effect in January.

Food banks

Public sector workers are struggling with an ongoing 1% pay cap at a time of rising prices, and a lack of affordable housing.

The RCN is continuing its summer of protest calling for the 1% pay cap to be scrapped, and citing the impact on living costs for nurses – some of whom have been forced to use food banks.

Last year’s RCN Congress also heard stories of nurses who were being forced to drive long distances home from work due to a lack of affordable housing close to their workplaces.

Flexible tickets

The Campaign for Better Transport told the Observer that part-time workers needed help with rail fares.

Chief executive Stephen Joseph said part-time workers either had to buy a full-time season ticket or expensive peak-time day fares.

‘We think the latest high rises will tip some people over the edge into either not working, changing jobs or moving house.

‘The government needs to get a grip on this and introduce the flexible tickets for part-time workers they have kept promising,’ he said.

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