Student workers

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2016 Higher Education Service Group Conference
13 October 2015

Conference is concerned at an apparently growing trend for universities to employ students in roles which are traditionally occupied by low paid women workers – jobs in cleaning, catering and clerical work.

Conference is aware that many students are forced to work to support themselves and supplement their student loans. However, these jobs are often portrayed as providing valuable work experience, when in fact they have no link at all with the student’s studies. Where work is linked to study, this can leave the students open to exploitation and favouritism.

Further, so called “casual” work, which has previously been undertaken by a non-student workforce – frequently our members – is not genuinely casual. This is evidenced by the training required – as fire wardens and in health and safety for example, and by auto-enrolment into pension schemes.

Conference believes that there must be protection for our members working in those fields most vulnerable to replacement by students under the guise of casual work and/or work experience.

Conference therefore calls upon the Higher Education SGE to:

1)develop guidance for branches on negotiating polices with employers to ensure transparency in the process for the employment of students, including what is and is not genuinely casual work and/or work which is appropriate for students;

2)continue to work with branches to protect members’ jobs in areas which are vulnerable to casualisation;

3)explore the potential for identifying and recruiting student employees who are eligible for UNISON membership, in order to better protect their employment rights and offer them the additional advantages of union membership;

4)seek to work with the National Union of Students on the above action points, where appropriate.