Two jobs to make ends meet

Last year, Kike Canet had eleven payers to, among all, earn a living wage. He is a private security guard and usually works five in the morning in a Labora office. It’s the most stable thing you have. In the afternoon, a wheel spins in which he does not know where or for which company in the sector he will work. It could be a music festival, a concert, a Villarreal match, a private company, a residence for people with mental disorders or one after the other at any time. Each month, he works at least two weekends.

Instability. Although in his case, partially chosen. He has a 13-year-old son with whom he lives week after week. So it’s good to have free afternoons. The week when the child is not there, he takes advantage of it and works as many hours as possible. On the other hand, he recognizes that the salaries established by the private security agreement are not enough to live on: “Working 40 hours is not enough to pay for life. If you have rent, a child, gasoline, which is now double the price, and utilities to pay, our base salary is not enough to support you,” Canet explains.

He is one of around 67,000 Valencians who have a second job, according to estimates by major unions based on social security data. They are approximately 31,800 men and 33,200 women. At the state level, the data is already comparable to that of 2008, after several series of increases. Moonlighting is making a comeback, if it ever left.

But not every case is like Kike’s, who has some ability to decide his day and change it freely on a part-time basis. The reality is that most people are forced to take two precarious part-time jobs in order to earn a living wage at the end of the month. This is the case of Augusto Juan Epam, who works in the morning as a street recruiter for an NGO and, in the afternoon, tries to run a company organizing events in schools and institutes. He started the business with a partner after organizing games for children in his neighborhood and the goal was for it to be his livelihood. At first yes, but the pandemic came, which destroyed the cultural sector, and he ended up looking for another job that would help him stay afloat. He came to accumulate 4,000 euros in debt despite the job. The company still hasn’t recovered and needs that extra money to literally survive.

It’s been like that for 8 years. “There comes a time when you see yourself with a job and a business, working to pay taxes and you end up borrowing at the end of the month for public transport,” he laments. This is how he must keep himself afloat, bringing together two sources of income, but as he remarks, “the hunger you choose is not the same as the hunger imposed”.

Kike Canet, about to start his service at the Labora offices. iborra pear trees

Juan Carlos Gallart is responsible for employment at CC OO PV, and explains that “on the one hand we are creating jobs in a very remarkable way”, and this is due to the labor reform. But on the other hand, the available employment is precarious. “The vast majority of moonlighting is forced and not voluntary. There are a lot of people who have a more or less permanent but badly paid and part-time job, and they have to look for another one that looks like it to at least make sure that they don’t end up with nothing,” remarks he. The sectors that concentrate the most undeclared work are services, hotels and others such as private security. And these are usually, he adds, several part-time contracts. It is very difficult to have a full-time job and a part-time job.

Some provinces, such as Alicante, are the ones with the most precarious undeclared work, particularly due to its large hotel sector. In the North, by contrast, industry still predominates “with jobs that require training and are generally more stable and comprehensive,” says Gallart. “There is a very clear relationship between the service sector, precarious work and undeclared work. This will be much more common among waiters and hotel employees than in industry in the Castelló area.

Ismael Sáez, secretary general of the UGT PV, specifies that “we cannot say that there is a trend towards an increase in undeclared work”. He specifies that, while in Spain it represents 2% of the labor market, in other countries such as the Netherlands it is much more common and reaches up to 4%. It is also widespread in other European countries. On the other hand, there is no age profile more likely to have two jobs, but the origin of the person and the fact that he is foreign have a great influence. “Everyone recognizes that within the hospitality industry there is a lot of undeclared work, like in the countryside, which usually falls to immigrants,” says Sáez. Despite everything, he recalls that the labor reform focused on strengthening labor inspection and put in place tougher measures, with which he hopes that all this submerged economy will prosper in the coming months. So moonlighting, in this sense, doesn’t have to be bad if it at least contributes to it.

On the other hand, those who work twice a day have a high chance of suffering an accident at work. “To accumulate long or marathon days is a health risk at work, especially when jobs are regularly linked with little rest. It’s even more dangerous if it’s monotonous activities, as they can affect mental health and there is a direct relationship with traffic accidents,” says Gallart.

There are also those who choose and combine two jobs with one life. This is the case of Ana Vanaclocha, accountant in the morning in a fruit warehouse in Carlet, and in the afternoon in an academy in Alginet. He has been practicing in both since 1992. “People were worried when they joined ERTE because they had two payers in the income statement. Me, I’ve been like this for almost 30 years,” says he. She explains that she prefers this pace of life much more than that of a permanent job. “I like to cook every lunchtime at home and having free time between 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. makes it easier for me,” she says.

She already had the possibility of teleworking at the end of the 90s, when the academy installed a computer at her home, and at the moment the two jobs offer her great flexibility of work: “I can come earlier or later as long as I have my hours and finish the job, so that’s fine with me,” he says. They even give you the option of extending the hours in either of the two jobs if you need to.

Juan Augusto Epam, working on the street for an NGO. f.calabuig

In his entourage there are also people who have two jobs, although these are more seasonal. This is the case for many women who work seasonally in the fruit warehouse and at the same time take care of the residents of a rest home in Carlet. One job alone wouldn’t pay the bills, but both would.

Private security guards are in the process of negotiating their collective agreement. Currently, companies in the industry offer few 40-hour shifts that give enough to sustain a living, so most prefer to work at multiple companies and work longer hours. “Hay veces que acabas empalmando un servicio con otro, viajas, te cambias de uniform y acabas haciendo 11 horas, o que la gasolina te sale casi más cara que el poco tiempo que vas a estar ahí si es, por ejemplo, un partido de football”. That’s why he is asking for salary improvements in his agreement. “Every time I work more hours because everything has increased; food, electricity, water, gasoline, absolutely everything. You can quit smoking to save, but you can’t stop refueling to go to work,” he says.

In Juan Augusto’s circle there are many people with undesirable moonlighting. “Now we have working poor people. And they have two jobs. Several cases come to mind but they do not want to expose themselves. A person who has two jobs and who still accumulates debts on the floor. You end up occupying the whole day to arrive exhausted from work, without any type of family life and you see how you have to eat the cheapest food to move forward. I have acquaintances who work 16 hour days in beach bars. And it still doesn’t affect them.”


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