As you know, many weeks ago, we closed our outlets to protect customers and student staff during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Following government advice, we made the decision to furlough all of our student staff, who are on flexible hours contracts, to ensure that they are financially supported during this difficult time and receive 80% of their average wages. We obviously cannot offer them any shifts while we are closed, and without furloughing them, we can provide only a minimal amount of financial support due to the lack of trading in all of our outlets currently. We use the university’s payroll to pay our student staff, and we need their consent to furlough them.
The university has refused to give us their consent for the last seven weeks now and we are extremely disappointed. This has left many of our student staff, those who make your coffees in our cafes, help stock our two shops, welcome you to Qmotion and pull your pints in Drapers and The Griff Inn, in severe financial difficulty.
As a result, today we are launching our ‘QMUL: Furlough Our Student Staff Now’ campaign to expose this huge unfairness and pressure the university to do the right thing for our 300+ student staff.
We believe that this decision to prevent the Students’ Union furloughing their staff does not fall in line with Queen Mary’s commitment on their own website that their students welfare is “our top priority”. Many of our student staff work whilst at university in order to be able to study and live in London, with the university’s stance against furloughing them causing many financial difficulties during this already troubling time. Most of the other universities in London have allowed the furloughing of staff to help ease the burden, including Kings, UCL, Imperial & SOAS. Queen Mary should not be an exception, especially when considering its proud history of representing students from lower socio-economic backgrounds and being a world-leading institute that is accessible for all.
It is absurd that any students who were working on zero-hour contracts for other organisations have been able to access the furlough scheme, but not our own student staff. The university is actively preventing us from financially supporting our employees, abandoning them in their time of need.
We would like to make it explicitly clear - we are NOT asking the university for financial support to support our student staff. All that we are asking is that they allow us to claim a grant from the Government that allows student staff members to join the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and access the furlough pay that they are entitled to according to Government advice. We have also been advised by our auditors and NUS that this is the best course of action.
What you can do?
We’ve created two different email templates for you to use to help us in our cause. Click below to send an email to Colin Bailey, QMUL Principal, expressing your disappointment with his decision to leave student staff to fend for themselves during a global pandemic and urge him to reconsider his decision.
Click below to send an email to Lord Tim Clement-Jones, who is Chair of QM Council, which is the governing body that helps run QMUL. Again, this email points out your dissatisfaction with the University’s current policy and urges him to reconsider their decision.
It is important that you email them both to ensure we have the maximum chance of success. In the coming days we will keep you updated with the campaign, and offer you other opportunities to join the campaign.
Together we can win this fight - but only with your help.
Click here to read our response to claims made about this campaign.
Joe Vinson, QMSU Commercial Services Officer
Megan Annetts, Acting QMSU President