Casual workers demand pandemic pay from UWE. IWW-WISERA

Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England

Bristol IWW is today publishing this statement on behalf of our members at University of the West of England (UWE) who have been facing hardship and distress due to the Executive Team’s decision not to furlough or provide direct financial assistance to all casual staff during the universities Covid-19 closure.

One hospitality worker described to the union how this situation was causing them concern, as “no furlough means that I will not be able to pay rent next month (or beyond) and that I’m at risk of homelessness. The only communications I have received told me HR is ‘looking into it’ and I haven’t heard anything back since”.

Another student ambassador explained that “many casual staff are reliant on their university income to get by financially, and we are worried that finding alternative work elsewhere in frontline industries would place us and those close to us at greater risk of infection by coronavirus”.

The IWW has written to UWE’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Steve West, on behalf of our members and their colleagues at UWE to highlight the detriments that they are currently facing and asked that these issues be addressed. Sadly Professor West has responded by refusing to discuss these issues with our union. Therefore, we have been left with no other option but to make this situation known publicly and to ask for the support of the wider Bristol community and to encourage our fellow workers at UWE to join in our struggle to reach a fair and amicable resolution.

We ask that:

  • Professor West meets with casual staff and representatives from the IWW so that our concerns can be heard.
  • All casual workers who are not furloughed under the job retention scheme should receive at least the equivalent pay through direct financial support from the university.
  • UWE informs all casual workers of the steps being taken to provide them financial assistance and explains clearly any criteria for pay.
  • All casual workers should be fully back-paid for the time since the universities closure on 24th March.

The Secretary of Bristol IWW, states that “While many workplaces have been affected by Covid-19, the actions (or lack of) taken by UWE has highlighted the precarious situation that many casual workers find themselves in. There is no good reason why the Executive Team should treat these workers any different to the permanent staff when they are so essential to the reputation and daily operation of the university”.

The IWW would like to appeal to readers that if you are a casual worker at UWE and would like to help your colleagues who are organising, so that ALL workers at UWE receive fair financial support during the pandemic, please Email bristol@iww.org.uk to get in touch and join the struggle!

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