Can students still work as receptionists at the UB?

The union and the UG still haven’t been able to agree on whether students working at the UB’s service desk are in fact doing structural work. Will on-call workers at the library soon be a thing of the past?

According to the union, at least thirty on-call workers at the UB are doing the same work as permanent employees, but under a flexible contract and, therefore, different employment conditions. The union argues that this is in violation of the collective labour agreement. The focus is particularly on on-call workers at the service desk, a role also carried out by permanent staff. The union raised questions about this in November to the university’s board of directors, which forwarded them to the UB.

For and by students

The library acknowledges in a written response that they employ on-call workers, and that all of them are students. According to the UB, this choice stems from a ‘long tradition’ of working with students. The library emphasises the importance of being both ‘for and by students’.

This means that students also work at the service desk, where they partly perform the same tasks as permanent employees, such as being the first point of contact for questions. However, the UB also states that, for the most part, students perform different tasks than permanent staff.

Personal choice

According to the UB, permanent staff mainly work during regular opening hours, between 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., while on-call workers are often scheduled for evening and weekend shifts.

The UB claims that they made a conscious choice not to burden the permanent staff with evening and weekend shifts, since these are times when students are eager to earn extra income. The library states that this is evident from the contract choices made by many students.

Although students initially start as on-call workers on a flexible contract with flexible hours, they are given the option to switch to a fixed-hours contract after twelve months. The UB notes that most students opt for flexible hours, leading them to conclude that there is a mutual desire for flexible deployment.

Until 9 p.m.

In a previous UKrant article, union representative Maarten Goldberg anticipated this argument, stating that, according to him, it did not hold up. ‘We have a collective labour agreement stating that working until 9 p.m. is possible without overtime pay.’ Therefore, on-call workers would fall under regular working hours until that time.

Goldberg won’t comment on the UB’s responses just yet. The union is still in discussion with the board of directors and the UB about the exact definition of structural work and whether students are performing it or not.


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