Bath University refuses to negotiate on paying living wage
Bath University has told its low paid staff that it will not negotiate with the campus trade unions to implement a living wage.
This comes despite the fact that the university awarded a £72,000 rise in basic pay to their vice chancellor Dame Glynis Breakwell in 2011/12 - taking her total pay and pension contributions to £367,000. In the same year the number of staff earning over£100,000 rose from 12 to 20. Last year she was awarded a 5.5% pay rise, making her one of the top 10 highest paid vice chancellors in the country.
The university is keen to provide advantageous pay and reward packages to recruit senior members of academic to the university. In addition, spending on new buildings is up with £100m going on capital projects.
Earlier this year, UNISON served a freedom of information request on all universities in England and Wales. The University of Bath disclosed that 1,255 staff are paid below the living wage of £7.45 an hour and that over 1,200 of these staff are on casual contracts.
UNISON's regional head of higher education Judy Wilson said: "The university is making a lot of noise about being number one in the country for student satisfaction, but they're very quiet about being the worst in the country when it comes to low pay. It's not as if Bath is a cheap place to live."
The university claims that the living wage is a misleading benchmark despite the fact that it is set by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, a respected organisation that undertakes academic research into setting the wage on an annual basis.
In the rest of the south west, universities gave their vice chancellors an average pay rise of 2.8% last year, more than double the current pay offer from the employers for the majority of higher education staff.
Only one university, University of the West of England (UWE), has not given its vice chancellor a pay increase. UWE has also agreed to start paying a living wage.
Seven other universities in the south west as well as Bath spent between £10m and £56m on new buildings.
Head of higher education Donna Rowe-Merriman said: "UNISON members will be angry to hear of inflation busting pay increases for high paid senior staff such as vice chancellors and senior managers at a time when the current offer from the employers for staff across the UK is a miserly 1%.
"The sector is in a sound financial situation but it appears that only a few are benefitting from this - there does not appear to be any fairness in relation to pay for the majority of staff who contribute to the sector's success."
UNISON is currently balloting its members on a 1% offer from university employers and urging its higher education members to vote to take strike action.
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