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The demands

(Real) living wages!

At present, two thirds of students have to work to fund their studies. For most student employees the hourly wage stands at 12 euros. Many students have to rely on work in addition to BAföG or financial support from their families. The ever-increasing rents, especially in university towns, add to the strained financial situation of students. Earnings for student employees are usually just above the minimum wage, in Hamburg even below the federal state minimum wage. Given the rising cost of living, one can hardly say that student employees have well-paid jobs with living wages. We demand that wages be increased and settled in a collective agreement.

An increase would even be advantageous for the universities. At the moment, due to the low wages, often only people who are already relatively financially secure can afford to work as assistants, since other jobs are paid much better in comparison. This simultaneously means that some university departments struggle to find qualified student staff.

Our demands for the collective bargaining round 2023:

  • 16.50€ in the 1st year of employment
  • from the 2nd year: 17.50€
  • from the 3rd year: 18.50€
  • calculation starts with the first contract of employment

Annual wage increases!
Tying the wage increases to the collective agreement of the Länder.

Both the cost of living and rents in university towns are rising every year. Our demand aims to take this into account and to stipulate a so-called dynamisation of wages, i.e. a regular increase, collectively agreed. Dynamisation has the advantage that wage increases are no longer dependent on political majorities and compliance with self-obligations, or that every wage adjustment has to be demanded anew. Unlike election promises and voluntary commitments, a collectively agreed dynamic wage increase would even be legally enforceable. So let’s hold the involved parties accountable and gain a dynamisation of wages so that you will continue to be able to pay your rent! Moreover, by linking wages increases to the collectively agreed increases of other university employees, student employees would not have to fight on their own every time, but would be included in the collective agreement increases of fellow employees.

The reluctance of state governments and universities to increase wages for student employees in recent years shows that such a step is urgently needed. Being able to pay your rent should not depend on political majorities or the good will of presidents. At the moment, students must be able to afford to working as student emloyees in the first place. That has to change. However, it should also be guaranteed that wages do not rise more slowly than the cost of living.

Plannability through minimum contract periods!
End serial fixed-term contracts.

Nationwide, very short fixed-term contracts are the rule at almost all universities. The contract terms for student assistants range mostly between 2 and 6 months. This is not only a curious bureaucratic burden and makes long-term planning impossible for student employees, but it also limits your possibilities in the workplace in very real terms. Unlike a termination, a non-renewal does not even have to be justified. If you had a longer contract, your boss would have to give you notice. And there are legal regulations for this. Whether you get a contract extension, however, depends on the goodwill of your supervisors alone. You can imagine that some of your co-workers would rather not take a holiday or go to the university late at night to make copies for the professor, or that they would rather hold back when asserting their legitimate interests or legal regulations.

While a minimum contract period makes it more difficult for your supervisor to dismiss you, a minimum contract period does not mean that you have to do the same job for 24 months. Employees can of course still unilaterally terminate employment contracts within the notice periods. A minimum contract period also does not prevent you from being employed for longer. We therefore think that the current ratio should be reversed. Instead of serial fixed-term contracts, long terms should be the rule, and deviations from this should have to be objectively justified. Berlin shows that this demand can be implemented in practice: there a minimum contract period of 24 months for student assistants is already in place.

Our demands for the collective bargaining round 2023:

  • minimum contract terms of 24 months
  • work hour minimum of 40 hours/month (shorter working hours at the request of the employee)

Compliance with minimum standards!
Holiday entitlement and continued payment in case of illness must be the rule.

Student employees have a statutory holiday entitlement as well as a right to continued payment of wages in case of illness. However, the harsh reality is that these minimum labour standards, which are established by labour laws and further improved by collective agreements, are not respected in many places. Often, student employees do not call in sick, but work the missed hours on other days. Many are not informed by the employers about their holiday entitlement and it is not implemented. However, periods of rest in the form of annual leave and not working when sick are essential for good health.

Compliance with holiday entitlements or regulations on sick leave must be ensured by employers and is not the individual responsibility of student employees! The regulations in the collective agreement of the Länder (TV-L) regarding continued payment of wages in case of illness are much better than those for you and your fellow student workers. The demand for compliance with the minimum standards is the first step towards improving employment conditions. The example of (non-) compliance with legal minimum standards clearly shows what determines the employment relationship of student workers: As an SHK (student assistant), you are directly and personally dependent on your supervisor. Since many student employees, for example, aspire towards a carrer in academia, they are dependent on their superiors’ support. Especially in addition to the short contract periods, it is an enormous challenge as an individual to assert your rights under such circumstances.

Our demands for the collective bargaining round 2023:

  • (Recreational) holiday entitlement of 30 days (fulltime equivalent)
  • Regulation of continued payment of wages in case of illness (i.e. at least 6 weeks and beginning from the 1st month of employment), annual bonus payment and surcharge for work at unfavourable working hours

Right to co-determination!
Democartic participation in staff councils must not exclude student employees.

Co-determination is exercised by the staff council (Personalrat), which represents the interests of the employees. In higher education, this body is elected democratically by the employees in accordance with the state staff representation laws and, within the scope of its office, it moves outside of company hierarchies. In concrete terms, this means that actions by the employer can be confirmed or rejected by the staff council, or that they can also take the initiative themselves through their right of proposal in order to stand up for employees’ interests. This gives them the power to strongly influence the concrete design of a workplace and thereby also improve it.

You want the working conditions of over 300,000 student employees to improve? Get organised on a nation-wide and on a local level!