NEWS

Moonlighting is the norm for one fifth of work force

Working two or more regular jobs has become commonplace for Greeks today, as they try to make low incomes stretch to cover rising prices, rent, loans, and credit card and other bills. In order to meet these routine obligations, it has become standard practice to take on a second job. Money or leisure Workers must balance a job which brings in low to medium wages with sticking to a strict budget and having some free time or taking on another job which entails greater stress, exhaustion and limited free time but does help increase their income. Some of those who have chosen the second path talked to Kathimerini about the demands of the times and the difficulties of working a second job. T.K., 30, used to work on the creative staff of a large multinational company. When her son was born, she had to give up her hopes of a career in that company and began working as a freelance writer. «I am a regular contributor to an advertising firm (where I have to be present every day for seven hours),» she said. «At the same time I work at a radio station where I am responsible for communications and copy creation. I also teach this subject at a college in Athens and I organize events for children too. I often write while I’m playing with my child. What I do is make him draw so I can grab a free minute to turn on my computer. But I feel lucky, because I am in the position of being able to work until 5 p.m. and do everything else at home where I can be with my child.» «On the other hand,» T.K. continued, «I feel like a machine that has to generate ideas every day and combine many roles. If I chose to do only one of these jobs, I could just pay the bills and some of the expenses for my son. Naturally, I count my blessings, because when I think about all those people who haven’t got a job, it would be a shame to reject what is offered.» G.K. worked as an executive in a large advertising company. A merger put him out of work for five months. His expenses were high as he supports a wife and child. When he found work at another advertising company he also had to start doing a night shift at a call center. «I leave home at 9 a.m. and get back at 1 a.m. What else can I do? I used my credit cards so much when I was unemployed that I had to find a second job to pay them off gradually,» G.K. said. «My wife and I keep in touch solely by text messages and phone calls, but we haven’t any other choice. The monthly expenses for our child alone (nursery, diapers, food and clothing) amount to a minimum of 600 euros – half my wage, in other words. After that there are bills, communal expenses for the apartment, the supermarket and, of course, credit cards, which are the biggest worry. I see my child for just half an hour in the morning and later, when he’s asleep.» B.K., 33, worked for 10 years at a well-known cosmetics chain. The hours were long and the work tiring. Though the pay was decent it was not enough to live on comfortably. Now she is a secretary and has better working conditions. «I work a broken shift, 9-2 and 5-9, so I can’t work anywhere else during the week,» she says. «But I am thinking seriously of taking on another job on the weekend, because my 800-euro salary doesn’t cover rent, bills, the supermarket, food, and personal items. Even though I share expenses with my boyfriend – we live together – we still don’t have any left over to travel or even think about having our own family.» A.P., 35, is a cameraman for a television station and lives alone in rented accommodation. On weekends he makes videos of weddings and baptisms to supplement his income. No alternative «There’s no alternative,» A.P. said. «I might work nights at the station and first thing the next morning have to travel outside Athens to film a wedding. Apart from the time that takes, I have to do the rest of the work at home. I get very little sleep. I wouldn’t dream of giving up my weekend work because that would ruin me financially.»