Striking students march against unpaid internships in Montreal

With a banner reading ‘pay us, or we break everything’ students smash wooden doors in street outside of Université du Québec à Montréal

By Alexander Perez
The Link

MONTREAL—(CUP) Resounding cheers and heckles echoed from students, who marched through downtown Montreal 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 and Ste-Denis Streets, outside of Université du Québec à Montréal.

“Payez nous, ou on casse tout,” read one of the banners at the march, which translates into “pay us, or we break everything.”

With more student 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 criticized 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,” stated 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.”

In NovemberUQAM 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.

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.

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Striking students march against unpaid internships in Montreal