The Living Wage Campaign at the University of Nottingham hosted their event, “A Fair Slice of the Cake”, on Friday.

Campaigners pledged to lobby the University further in joining the growing list of universities in the UK to become Living Wage employers.

Professor Marek Korczynski welcomed the attendees, and expressed surprise that such a large crowd, made up of students and staff alike, had come to express their support.

A variety of staff, student, and union representatives then gave speeches thanking the gathered crowd for attending the event and outlining the importance of their cause.

Each speech emphasised the moral responsibility of the University to meet the Living Wage rate for its employees, which was raised last week to £8.25 per hour for areas outside of London.

In his speech, Scott Jennings, the Chair of the students’ Living Wage campaign, said it was important for staff, students, and unions alike to continue to pressure the University to implement the Living Wage for its entire staff.

“The University has no outstanding debts, they make a massive surplus […] – they can afford to pay these people”

Jennings said, “It is not a particularly radical idea considering the bastion of universities, including the LSE, that pay the Living Wage already”.

Seventeen British universities are currently accredited as official Living Wage employers.

Speaking to Impact, Jennings, who is also the current President of the Left Society, said that the University of Nottingham’s arguments against paying the Living Wage “frankly, run very dry”.

“The University has no outstanding debts, they make a massive surplus, and executive pay is outrageously high. They can afford to pay these people the amount they need to live.”

Each speaker also commented on the fact that the campaign has tried for several years to lobby the University on this issue, to no avail.

“Eventually the University will be left high and dry, and they will have to do something”

“This policy is three years old now,” said Jennings, “and we have had promise after promise that it would be done, and it has not been done”.

He added: “Eventually the University will be left high and dry, and they will have to do something”.

A letter to the University’s Vice-Chancellor, imploring the implementation of the Living Wage rate, was circulated around the event, and the campaign’s leaders asked for those in attendance to add their signatures to the letter.

Rachel Hoskins, also a student at the University of Nottingham and Communications Manager for UoN Feminists, said: “We believe the student experience is made better by the staff at the University. We should encourage our University to be a Living Wage employer”.

She added: “It is just about putting some of the money that the University makes towards paying their employees a proper wage. It is important that we, as students here, should have a say on where the funding goes”.

“Professor Korczynski said that universities have a ‘moral responsibility’ to become ‘beacons in a society'”

Professor Korczynski, an academic from the University’s Business School and committee member in the University and College Union (UCU), emphasised that the implementation of a Living Wage pay rate is not outside of the University’s means.

Speaking to Impact, he said: “We have had about a year and a half of trying to talk to the University about the importance of becoming a Living Wage employer.

“We have even costed it – it costs around £500,000 – and we are talking about a University that is generating a surplus of £20 million a year, so we are talking about a very small percentage of that.”

He added: “It won’t hurt the University in any way to do that – so we hope that they will see that sense”.

Professor Korczynski also said that universities have a “moral responsibility” to become “beacons in a society – beacons of freedom, of thinking, but also as a good employer as well”.

“The campaign’s next step is to lobby the University council”

He stated that the campaign’s next step is to “lobby the University council as there are a number of members on there who have already talked to us privately, saying that they are supportive of this campaign”.

With renewed momentum and a greater support base, the campaign is hopeful about its future efforts to press the University further on this issue.

James Noble

Image: M.o.B 68 via Flickr

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