Internship Strike Resumes as Students March Downtown
Students Calling for provincial Government to End Consultations and Take Action
Held up like blocking pads at a football practice, students charged towards recycled, brown, panel doors, intent on smashing them to bits.
Resounding cheers and heckles echoed from students, who marched downtown in the ongoing fight against unpaid internships on Thursday afternoon. Students took turns stomping on top of the splintered debris that was left on the corner of Ste-Catherine St. and Ste-Denis St., outside of Université du Québec à Montréal.
“Payez nous, ou on casse tout,” read one of the banners at the march.
With more students taking on strike mandates across the province, university students met at Place Émilie-Gamelin outside of Berri-UQAM metro and marched to continue butting heads with the provincial government over the remuneration of internships.
As the march ensued, the crowd, in unison, demanded the Coalition Avenir Québec government end “false consultations” and take action on the matter.
Earlier this winter, the CAQ presented a plan for internship remuneration, but it was quickly criticised for only opening up payment for some interns while excluding others.
“The details are left to the government, allowing it to categorize internships in order to justify some interns remaining unpaid,” wrote a press release from the Montreal Coalition for Paid Internships. “[It doesn’t] correspond with the demands of interns who are fighting to improve their working conditions.”
Many reiterate that the interns strike is a feminist strike. On Friday morning, a banner was dropped over Autoroute 25 that read “Grève des Femmes Stage.”
“The government takes the threat of internship strikes seriously [because it has] a massive economic and social impact,” said Mathilde Laforge, a social work student at UQAM. “However, it does not take seriously the importance of valuing and recognizing women workers in the care sector.”
In November, UQAM social work student Laurie Bissonette told The Link women and marginalized people tend to be the ones most subject to the negative repercussions of unpaid work. Internships in fields that are mostly held by women, notably in the care sector, tend to be unpaid as opposed to male dominated fields.
“From the time of studies, women are accustomed to free work and to deplorable working conditions,” said Bissonette in an email to The Link. “If women do not pass the test of internships, they find themselves having to give up their studies for not being ‘strong enough’ to comply.”
According to a study conducted by the Université de Sherbrooke, in Quebec, internships held by men are two-and-a-half times more likely to be paid compared to those held by women.
“It’s disproportionate the number of women employed by sectors where unpaid internships are most prevalent,” said Sean Illman-White, from the School of Community and Public Affairs Student Association.
“This is a women’s issue to an extent as well, and certainly that’s been articulated by a lot of different groups in the movements,” he continued.
More students strikes are set to take place, with the general unlimited strike taking place on March 18, ahead of the CAQ government’s budget reveal on March 21. According to The Gazette Éric Girard, Quebec Finance Minister, teased good news for budgets concerning health and education.