Statement from UNICUS Worker on Company's Furlough Policy
- Wed 08th Apr 2020
Statement from UNICUS Worker “Pat” who wished to remain anonymous
As a worker at Unicus, I was pleased to hear Unicus is taking advantage of the government subsidy to cover 80% of wages during the coronavirus lockdown. But this was down to the fact the university has a growing, fighting Unite branch working alongside other unions, which means we have avoided the worst case scenarios facing many casual workers at Newcastle, Sussex and Bristol. However, going forward I’d like to see Unicus and the university use some of its profits to show that it values its workers no matter where they work.
Workers at the Students Union and University represented by Unite and supported by Unison and the UCU have been guaranteed not only 80% pay but 100% of pay whilst furloughed. But despite University of Sheffield owning Unicus in full, it feels no responsibility towards workers at Unicus to ensure we too have a living wage and that we too are guaranteed 100% wages for the period of furlough.
I still have to pay 100% for food, rent and bills while my landlord gets to enjoy a three month mortgage holiday. I remain liable for rent on reduced wages. 100% was a struggle but 80% feels impossible. I wish I were lucky enough to be able to devote 100% of my time and energy to my degree but must work to cover the costs associated with being a student in a for-profit model of education. Now I'm being told to take a wage cut which puts me below minimum wage for my age group! Are we 20% less valuable than those employed by the students union or by the University themselves?
The reason the university feels they can treat us this way is because they have undermined our bargaining power, and have disconnected us from fellow employees and unions at the university. By outsourcing our employment they have no legal obligation to us despite the fact many of us are students and many of us have worked at the university for years.
In the near future, I’d like to see Unicus follow the example of the University and Students Union and guarantee its workers 100% pay. In future, I’d also like Unicus to come in line with the university’s own standards and offer its staff a living wage and secure contracts. I urge all my fellow workers in Unicus to join the Unite campaign, as it was only through joining up and collectively pressuring the University that the Students Union workers were able to secure 100% pay and a promise to move Students Union workers to secure contracts in place of zero hour ones. Our voice is much louder when we come together. We are already gaining momentum and have achieved huge gains such as 80% pay but if we grow the campaign we can win parity with the rest of university.