Nottingham Labour Students hosted Gloria de Piero MP on Friday evening as part of the launch of their Living Wage Campaign. This comes as part of a growing movement demanding employers to pay wages which will enable workers to provide themselves with everyday necessities and pay bills.
The newly promoted Shadow Cabinet Minister for Women and Equalities was part of a panel that were invited to discuss the need for the University of Nottingham to implement a living wage for all its staff. By a UNISON representative’s calculations, two pay brackets of University of Nottingham staff are currently below the living wage rate of £7.45.
The introduction of the living wage is seen as a way for Nottingham to become a safer, healthier and more prosperous city.
Georgia Power, the chair of Nottingham Labour Students, told attendees that workers at the university deserved a pay rise to put them at this basic level. The SU’s Environment & Social Justice Officer Michael Olatokun emphasised the SU’s commitment to the campaign, whilst Lydia Rye of Nottingham Citizens revealed public forums provide evidence that the introduction of the living wage is seen as a way for Nottingham to become a safer, healthier and more prosperous city.
Catering assistant Kate, who has worked at the University of Nottingham for five years, outlined the demanding nature of the variety of tasks she completes on a daily basis while being paid less than the living wage. Receiving the most applause from the audience, she stated: “We are all equals and play an important role in the University regardless of the job… the living wage is the least we deserve.”
“The living wage is the least we deserve”.
De Piero concluded the speeches by emphasising the need for people rooted in communities to become involved with politics and talked about the economic difficulties that both individuals and the country are facing. As a consequence, De Piero said, the living wage campaign is becoming more important than ever.
In response to a question about the minimum wage, De Piero acknowledged the need to increase it and stated that the government is not prosecuting sectors that do not enforce it. The shadow minister also called for the need for major companies to be socially responsible about profits and had agreement from Rye, when she stated that the living wage should be something that some businesses that can afford to pay should pay.
Loughborough University and Queen Mary London are universities which have successfully adopted the approach as part of 408 Living Wage accredited employers.
De Piero revealed that Labour leader Ed Miliband would be giving a speech on the matter at the end of the week. It has since been announced that the living wage would be his government’s “central mission”, and tax rebates would be used as an incentive for companies to become accredited living wage employers. Rye promoted a positive outlook on the viability of the campaign, using examples of Loughborough University and Queen Mary London as universities which have successfully adopted the approach as part of 408 Living Wage accredited employers.
November 3rd to November 9th is National Living Wage Week, and UNISON and Nottingham Labour Students are both running events to raise awareness for the cause. On Monday the 4th, Nottingham Citizens will be announcing the Living Wage Campaign from 8am in Market Square, and Nottingham Labour Students are running a workshop on campaigning methods in the evening (time and place to be confirmed).
Last December a motion supporting the premise was passed by the SU Council after campaigning from Nottingham Labour Students and the recent launch can be followed on the University of Nottingham Living Wage Campaign Facebook page.
Yasemin Craggs Mersinoglu