I was about to comment but then it got too long and even as a post it is quite long.
Speak with your PI
However, the professor has mentioned he is to be my assistant, so I am not sure if he does have to put in as much work as I do?
I suppose this is the first time you have an assistant and in that case, it seems fair to ask your PI what is the scope of tasks and the amount of time you are entitled to ask your 'assistant'.
I know that the amount of work/time really depends on your country/university/field/department and lab.
Your PI should be able to give you at least general guidelines and what it is the minimum expected from an undergrad assistant in his lab.
Then stick to it at first and see how things go.
- Were you given an assistant for the sole purpose that you were too busy?
- This new research undergrad had to be trained and since you have taken care of it, you can now 'be paid back' by his work to compensate the time you had put in his training?
If you don't know you should also figure this out with your PI.
I do not want for him to take credit for something I did (in the long run), but I am afraid that because I may appear weak to him, this will most likely happen.
I am also wondering whether I am just putting [him] in a negative light because I see him as competition?
This should not happen as long as you keep your PI 'in the loop' about what everyone has done.
Keep a log of everything he has done and the things you have done. In a matter of fact and professional way.
This is also good to find out what is the contribution of each author/co-author in the final paper.
It is a good practice to keep your PI up-to-date by e-mails (particularly if you have a busy PI) of the progression of the work. (CC everyone involved in those emails). Even if your PI doesn't really read these emails. The purpose, here, is to keep track in a more formal way.
Speak with your "assistant"
He is busy, you are busy, everyone is busy.
There are several points to consider here:
- Is your assistant still studying?
- Is he 'doing research' in your lab as a full-time job? As a side?
- As a requirement of his curriculum?
- As to gain more experience for later so basically for free and his own volition?
- Is he earning some financial compensation or reputational one due to this position?
And same questions about yourself?
The way to handle this situation is going to depend on his and your situation.
In any case, you can ask in advance how many hours per week he can give you and when: even if he is very busy, he should be able to give that much information before hand. Make him then understand that not being able to keep his words on what he promised is very unprofessional.
However, do give him a bit of time to figure this out, he looks pretty disorganised to me, so he might need a couple of weeks before he can give you a proper figure.
I also struggle in giving him work to do
That would help you to figure out what to give him. Particularly as you seem to do wet-lab work for me (chemistry I would guess if there are many alarms going off). It is hard to plan on the spot.
I would like to tell him in a nice way, that if we are to work on this project together, he must put in the same amount of work that I do.[...] but I simply cannot stand the complaining anymore.
Depending on the amount of time he can give you, you should be able to tell him something like:
OK, based on your schedule, you can only work 10h on this project per week, while I put 35h and X is putting y h., which means that would be only 2% of the total work per week and then I was working on this project from XX months and X,Y,Z from MM months.
You do realise that won't be enough for a proper contribution to the paper
The guy might be truly very busy and just didn't realise what he was committing himself to. You don't expect the same thing from an intern and an assistant. You don't expect the same amount of work from the technician and the PhD student either. They also won't have the same priority on the final authors list.
Try to keep in mind that he is unexperimented and maybe he doesn't realise what is the normal amount of work he should be doing. And maybe he is not fitted for it. What you think about his opinion about research is irrelevant to the problem; how much time he can spare is.
You should also assess why he tends to trigger the alarms so often. If it is because he doesn't apply the best practices, ask him to do so.
Teach him again if necessary.
Safety matters are not a joke. These can also block you to land future positions.
(In a former lab I was working in, one of the post-doc was a real danger and wasn't carrying about anyone health and safety but himself; he created different bad accidents - at the end, he had to go to teach in one this 'after school' complementary school for high-schooler as nobody was allowing them in their lab anymore).
Alarms might be seen as a nuisance to some people, but in the long term (life long-term) there aren't.
Speak with other people of the lab/department
If you can't have a clear idea about what to do from your PI, look/discuss with the other people from the lab about general politics of the lab. No need to complain about your assistant to other as it might be perceived as unprofessional.
Just figure out what is an assistant suppose to do, and how you are supposed to manage them, if there was any other undergrad assistant, etc.
About the publishing part:
If you do science, it is sad to be the only one to know about something, so please consider publishing in any case. ;)
And when you are publishing a paper, everyone is not required (and most of the time they are not) to put the same amount of effort and time. However, the contribution of everyone should be clearly stated in the final paper.
As long as you communicate clearly with your PI, you will be fine.