The Living Wage Campaign at the University of Nottingham (UoN) continues to put pressure on the University this week, as the national Living Wage Foundation announced the new rates of £8.25 per hour, or £9.40 in London.

The campaign to implement Living Wage rates for all UoN staff, led by students, staff and societies alike, is hosting an event this Friday 6th November to celebrate Living Wage Week and promote their cause.

The cause seeks to secure the Living Wage rate for cleaning, catering, and other staff at the University who are paid less than this established rate.

Its online petition cites evidence reported by Unison earlier this year that found that more than 500 members of staff at the University are paid below the Living Wage.

“[The University’s] lowest paid staff struggle on some of the lowest wages in higher education”

In an article published by Unison in January, the union stated: “The University’s mission statement says ‘our purpose is to improve life for individuals and societies worldwide’, but its lowest paid staff struggle on some of the lowest wages in higher education”.

As is always the case for the figures issued by the Living Wage Foundation, the new rates are calculated independently and based on the cost of living.

Previously, for areas outside London such as Nottingham, the Living Wage rate was calculated at £7.85.

The increase to £8.25 in the face of ever increasing living costs sees the Living Wage rate now £1.55 higher than the national minimum wage, which remains at £6.70.

The plans to implement a new national minimum wage next April will see the rate rise to £7.20 – a rate considerably lower than the new figures announced by the Living Wage Foundation, and only applicable to workers over the age of 25.

“Campaigners also state that the cost of implementing the Living Wage is not outside of the University’s means”

The campaign at UoN asserts that the University should join the growing list of British universities that are accredited Living Wage employers, in order to provide a decent wage and a more secure standard of living for those staff that “carry out such a vital role in the day to day running of the University”.

Campaigners also state that the cost of implementing the Living Wage for all UoN staff is not outside of the University’s means.

Evidence provided by Unison in response to a Freedom of Information request in 2013 suggested that the cost of bringing all 569 employees at that time up to the Living Wage rate was an added £550,000 annually.

Whilst the newly announced rate of £8.25 per hour would cost the University more than the above figure, the University’s annual financial report for 2014 showed that its total income over the last financial year increased by £10 million, leaving it with a surplus of £25 million.

Unison also provided evidence to show that the number of staff earning more than £100,000 a year has risen from 115 to 134, at a total cost of £16 million.

Impact has contacted the University for a comment with regards to its position on the Living Wage campaign and is awaiting a response.

The UoN Living Wage Campaign will host “A Fair Slice of the Cake” on Friday 6th November in the Portland Building Atrium at 1pm.

James Noble

Image: Jeff Milner via Flickr (Image cropped)

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