A victory for the living wage campaign

Campaigners say there are still issues with the way that Bath University has chosen to pay its employees

 

After two years of hard campaigning, UNISON has welcomed the news that the University of Bath will now pay all staff the living wage.

Last year the university agreed to pay the living wage equivalent to all contracted staff, but refused to extend the agreement to casual workers, many of whom were struggling to survive on the minimum wage and zero-hours contracts.

But now a discretionary pay supplement has brought pay for all staff and casual workers up to the equivalent of £7.85 an hour.

FoI requests showed that Bath University employs more minimum wage staff than any other university in the country, and is one of the highest users of insecure zero-hours contracts.

UNISON, UCU, Unite and the Bath Students against Fees and Cuts campaign have been pushing the university to pay the living wage since this information was obtained.

Campaigners have staged a number of protests this year, highlighting pay inequality, poverty wages and job insecurity on campus. A petition calling for the living wage and an end to the excessive use of zero-hour contracts attracted more than 500 signatures.

Nick Moore, a second-year politics with economics student and UNISON member said:

“I’ve needed to work at the university to be able to afford to live and study here.

“This past year I’ve felt pretty undervalued, on low pay and a zero-hours contract, and it’s been difficult to get by, especially with increasing living costs.

“I’m so glad that we fought for this – the pay rise will really help me and many others.”

UNISON has consistently highlighted the issue of low pay for university support staff. Last month, along with other further education trade unions, they lodged a pay claim with the Association of Colleges, recommending that the living wage is the minimum pay rate in colleges with annual up-rating, and that colleges enter into discussion with the Living Wage Foundation on achieving accredited status.

Although UNISON have welcomed the latest decision, campaigners at Bath University still have concerns about the ‘discretionary supplement’ system. This essentially amounts to a tip added on top of low basic rates, and can be withdrawn at any time.

UCU say they will continue to fight to see it made permanent and consolidated, ensuring workers do not have to enter the same disputes every year.

Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter

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