Unite the Union are claiming a ‘win for workers’ after they reached an agreement with Sheffield Students’ Union to pay zero-hours casual staff until the middle of April.

There are around 600 casual staff at the Students’ Union, many of whom Unite say don’t qualify for statutory sick pay, and therefore would’ve been out of pocket during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

However, this agreement will see casual staff paid at least until Friday 10 April. This is the second local victory for Unite in a matter of weeks, as they also pushed Sheffield SU management to improve its terms for self-isolating zero hours staff, giving them full pay throughout their period of isolation of sickness.

“The agreement gives zero hours staff some much needed confidence in difficult times. Sheffield Students’ Union are to be congratulated for recognising the challenges workers face,” said Harriet Eisner, Unite regional officer.

“At the request of Unite, management had already improved its terms for self-isolating zero hours staff. The deal was made possible by the workers, proving that when you organise you can win.

Read more: Unite the Union call for improvements to Sheffield SU casual staff sick pay

“Unite is still in negotiations with the Students’ Union to protect our members throughout the lockdown period but this is a significant step in the right direction. Unite expects high standards for workers at the best of times but we want to see all workers treated properly – regardless of their employment status – in the worst of times, too.”

Casual staff are employed in a number of the Students’ Union’s services, including shops, bars, cafes and more. All of these services are temporarily shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the Students’ Union on lockdown for the time being.

Zero-hours staff are not guaranteed pay when they’re unable to work, and many will be without income during the pandemic. Unite also say that statutory sick pay (SSP) is unsuitable for many workers, as to qualify you must earn at least £118 per week.

Many students don’t come close to reaching this, however will now be paid based on the hours they worked in February until the middle of April, when Easter break was due to begin.

Jake Verity, Sheffield SU President, said: “As an organisation we’re very happy to support our casual workers with this announcement, and I am personally really pleased that we are helping our students through what is a difficult time for everyone.

“We decided to announce this to our casual workers last Friday, after what had been an enormously challenging week for everybody. Hopefully this agreement will offer them the safety and security they need over the coming weeks, and will boost their wellbeing as we all deal with the challenges that COVID-19 has faced us with.”

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