Poverty Pay Doesn’t Pay – the Living Wage in Higher Education

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2014 Higher Education Service Group Conference
7 November 2013

Conference applauds the successful implementation of the Living Wage that has been achieved at Exeter University, Wolverhampton University and Loughborough University amongst many. At Exeter University, the Students Guild has also agreed to implement the Living Wage which demonstrates that being a Living Wage employer is also about applying the same standard to services that are provided on behalf of the University by other employers. Exeter Students Union (The Guild) is demonstrating the same commitment to the Living Wage, and we applaud them for their far –sighted approach.

Unfortunately there remain a large number of universities that refuse to pay the Living Wage. That these universities are amongst the richest in the UK and employ the largest number of low paid workers is a cause for shame. Equally damning is the refusal by the national employer’s organisation UCEA to recommend to its constituents the implementation of a Living Wage for both directly and indirectly employed staff.

Conference notes that pivotal to the success and sustainability of any Living Wage campaign is the unionisation of the workers to meet the other challenges facing them in the workplace including poor job security, lack of training opportunities, poor sick leave and annual leave entitlements.

Conference, however, notes that some Higher Education Institutions have decided to use their procurement policies and procedures to extend the Living Wage to private and voluntary sector contractors. Conference therefore asks the Service Group Executive to promote the procurement advice to branches and to lead a campaign to shame those universities who do not pay the Living Wage and those Universities who do not ensure their contractors pay the Living Wage.

Conference instructs the Service Group Executive to:-

1)Continue to work with the National Union of Students on the joint Living Wage campaign taking place in further and higher education

2)Continue to support branches and regions in local and regional Living Wage campaigns

3)To continue to encourage branches to engage with community groups in the fight for justice for low paid workers in higher education

4)To name and shame the institutions that refuse to the pay the Living Wage

5)To name and shame those institutions who do not ensure their contractors pay the Living Wage.