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Improving work and employment: trade union organising in precarious times.

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Room D02, Teaching and Learning Building,

University Park

University of Nottingham

Nottingham

United Kingdom

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Having to work part-time to keep student debts under control? Fed up with low wages and zero hour contracts? Unionisation has also spread into areas previously considered unorganisable, including agency contract as well as ‘self-employed’ gig workers. Join us to discuss possibilities to fight for decent wages and working conditions.

Employment has become increasingly ‘precarious’ with many workers on minimum wage. More than 1 million people – a high proportion of them students – are also employed on ‘zero hours’ contracts. While this may have advantages for some, for students perhaps fitting work around their timetable, it can also mean being the subject to bullying managers forcing unsuitable shifts or send people home – without pay – and without notice. On graduation many students, hoping to escape this instability, find themselves continuing in an almost unending series of internships, induced poverty, continued dependence on parents, or in bogus ‘self-employment’ which has increasingly become the norm.

Recently there has been a challenge to this decline. In universities, lecturers have taken industrial action to defend their pensions, junior doctors have challenged changes in their contract, and even barristers have struck in reaction to cuts in legal aid, while Ryanair pilots have organised internationally.

Unionisation has also spread into areas previously considered unorganisable. Starting with cleaners and other contract workers at the University of London, unions have increasingly organised those on zero hours, agency contract workers, as well as ‘self-employed’ gig workers. Recently drivers for Uber acted against the way they have been treated by the company, joining others at TGI Friday, McDonalds and Wetherspoons. Organising is now in progress at such anti-union bastions of the new high-tech economy as Amazon, Google and Microsoft.

This event brings together activists and trade unions, involved in the campaigns to organise the fightback for improved conditions and recognition. We will reflect on the experience of students, graduates and others within employment, the conditions they face and the possibilities they have to fight for better employment.

What role can students play in this new unionization? What can unions do for students in employment now or in their later careers? This event brings together activists and trade unions involved in organising at TGI Friday, Games Workers United, and the United Voices of the World to reflect on the experience of students, graduates and others within employment.

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Room D02, Teaching and Learning Building,

University Park

University of Nottingham

Nottingham

United Kingdom

View Map

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