Official University response to collective grievance offers no hope to workers, 45 percent of whom have had to lost their accommodation due to financial hardship
Unite Hospitality organiser, Neil Moore, blasted the response of Queens University to a collective grievance raised by zero hours employees at student union facilities which have had to close temporarily due to Covid restrictions.
“The response received this evening from Queens University authorities is among the most callous we have received from any employer during this pandemic. They flatly refused to avail of government furlough payments under the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme to obtain pay supports for casual and zero-hours workers at student union facilities.
“Almost half of these workers are students trying to work their way through college; they can’t access income support benefits – leaving them facing a real financial crisis. In a recent survey, 92 percent told us the loss of this work had affected their studies already. Many are genuinely concerned that they won’t be able to continue into the next semester.
“Devastatingly 45 percent of our members told us they’ve lost their living accommodation as a result of losing this income – many being made technically homeless in the process. Queens University sells itself as the premier educational institution in Northern Ireland – but this heartless response to the plight of their own zero-hour workforce is genuinely deplorable.
“This action and the dreadful impact it will have is completely unnecessary – the financial supports exist to support these workers while these facilities are temporarily closed. Our members are genuinely shocked that Queens is refusing to lift a finger – at no cost to themselves – to support them.
“There is mounting solidarity from students across the campus and from the wider working-class. In less than 24 hours, more than 800 have signed the solidarity petition calling on Queens to avail of the government’s furlough scheme. The protests for justice will escalate”, Mr Moore concluded.