Student workers paid ‘poverty wage’

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Despite the Union lobbying the University to pay its staff the living wage, it is failing to do so for its own employees.

Last year a Better Union idea was passed which stated that the LUU should try to make the University pay “all its staff, teachers, admin, cleaners, catering etc.” the living wage.

Out of the 402 students the Union currently employs, only two are paid the living wage, which is currently set at £7.45 per hour.

95 per cent of non-student staff are paid a monthly salary which is above the living wage. The living wage is an initiative being pushed nationally to pay staff enough to reasonably live off and is tailored to the cost of living in each part of the country. The Guardian, amoungst others, brands anything below this as ‘poverty wage’.

In an interview with this paper, NUS President Liam Burns said: “In terms of student unions, I would be surprised if they didn’t aspire to pay the living wage. We continue to campaign on that and we continue to support student unions who want to try and achieve living wage status”.

However, the Union’s Affairs Officer Antony Haddley stated: “For many reasons, the living wage doesn’t apply to student wages, so I don’t see any problem with the Union continuing to pay students at its current rates.” Haddley also told this paper: “I completely believe in the living wage, and that the University should be paying all their non-student staff at that level or above. It is my job, as policy has been passed, to lobby the University to pay their staff the living wage.”

Following Leeds Student’s revelation, Essentials worker James Greenhalgh will be submitting a Better Union idea that LUU should pay all its staff the same living wage. James said: “I am absolutely outraged that I am being paid less than other people in the Union. The reason I took the job is because I am struggling to get by and the Union should be committed to helping students out in any way they can. If I am getting off my arse working instead of taking out a credit card to cover living costs, then I should be entitled to the same wage as any other worker.”

Politics student Tom Follet, who submitted the idea that the Union should lobby the University, explained why he thought it was a good idea. “Paying employees the living wage is a sign that they’re valued as people who have their own lives and their own families, not just workers.”

Canterbury Christ Church’s students’ union pays all of its employees, students and non-students, approximately £9.35 an hour.

Rhys Moore, Director of the national Citizens UK Living Wage Campaign, said: “Responsible employers across the country are moving to the Living Wage. Already more than a dozen leading UK universities and students’ unions are signing up to be Living Wage Employers, enjoying an improved quality of service and a better reputation.”


Rehema Figueiredo


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