Campaign for the salarisation of all internships

Is our society against exploitation? As our leaders vote for themselves some pay raises, future nurses, social workers, veterinarians, and teachers do their work for free. Oh yes! Student in these programs have to accomplish up to 40 hours a week of free labour under the pretense of their school curriculum. Governments and corporations call these internships, but we can clearly see that what hides underneath is nothing else than the exploitation of women.

And these student workers get told that they should be grateful to be able to work for free, under the pretext that it is a valuable learning experience! After all, they insist on making us believe that learning is solely an act of self-emancipation, that it is a service to be bought. In fact, our education is intellectual labour that serves all of society and corporations, since our entire economy needs a specialized workforce created by education. Whether they want to pay us or not, the work achieved in an intership is essential in order to preserve our public services. That is without mentioning that, in many cases, interns end up taking the full workload of a regular employee.

At a time when we bemoan the shortage of teachers, nurses, and social workers, the government would rather consider shorten the duration of a bachelor's degree in education and require more mandatory overtime from nurses than to make the living conditions of interns in these fields livable.

We have no other choice, we need student strikes!

What is a student strike?

The student strike consists of collectively deciding to impede our classes until our demands are satisfied. A student strike is typically voted by a student association at a general assembly. Since the entire economy needs workers, we are threatening our future employers to aggravate their labour problems. If the student strike is not disruptive, then why do we only talk about students in the news when we do strike?

In 2015 and 2018, there have already been waves of student strikes for internship pay, which have allowed student associations to make local gains, such as a scholarship and the creation of proceedings to counter harassment in internship settings. Now, we must raise the pressure and coordinate our efforts throughout so-called Quebec to demand minimum decency: the salarisation of internships. Because one scholarship is not enough, we demand a living wage, and we will stop our courses for at least three days during the week of March 25, 2024 to force the government to yield to our demands!

Let us go to our general assemblies and fight student precarity!

Here is a list of associations that will be on strike during the week of march 25th through 29th.

Internship salarisation, in numbers :

  • Interns currently work over 31 million unpaid hours
  • It would cost about $878 million a year to pay for all internships, including professional training, college and university.
  • This estimate assumes a salary of $27.15/hour for university internships and $20.81/hour for professional and technical training internships, the rates in force in the public sector.
  • This would represent only 0.6% of the provincial government’s current annual spending (which is about 150 billion).
  • The government would like to bring back its 3rd link, whose last estimate was $10 billion, which would be enough to pay for all internships for more than 10 years!
  • Do not tell us that there is not enough money!

Internship salarisation : a feminist issue

  • The majority of fields with unpaid internships are those where the vast majority of students are women. For example, 87.5% of elementary and pre-school teachers are women.
  • Unpaid internships are therefore a way for the government to maintain the undervaluation of women’s work, under the pretext that “it is a vocation”, “it is done out of love for young people”, so many things we heard not so long ago to justify relegating women to the kitchen and home.
  • The high number of free hours forces students to remain in dangerous relationships with dangerous partners, bosses and families, making them more vulnerable to sexual violence.

A public service issue

  • There is a serious shortage of social workers, nurses, teachers, etc.
  • Free internships force students in these fields to take other jobs and live in precarity during their internships, hindering their learning.
  • A salary for their internship would allow students to leave their part-time jobs to devote themselves fully to their studies.
  • A salary would allow these workers to unionize, which has the potential to change the power dynamic in the face of governmental reforms and cuts.

How do I get involved?

  • See if there are already scheduled general meetings/strike referendums on your campus, and if so, go vote and defend your opinions, it always makes a difference!
  • If your student association is already involved in the campaign, talk to the executive council to see how you can join the efforts underway.
  • Talk to your friends and classmates about the cause, the need for means of action, such as a strike, and encourage them to go vote.
  • Join your local mobilization committee on internship salarisation, or create one with your friends!
  • Join a committee of the CRUES, our coalition of student associations, which has an active campaign for the salarisation of all internships.

Regional protests for the salarisation of all internships

  • Montreal protest on Friday March 29th at 1pm at the Émilie-Gamelin park : Facebook event.