Today sees everyone who works at the University of Bath start to receive the living wage.
The news – welcomed by UNISON, staff and students at the university – follows two years of hard campaigning.
Last year, the university agreed to pay the equivalent of the living wage to all contracted staff but, despite pressure from campus unions, refused to pay up for casual workers struggling to survive on the minimum wage and zero-hours contracts.
But now a discretionary pay supplement will bring pay for all staff and casual workers up to the equivalent of £7.85 an hour from 1 April, although it is not yet consolidated into staff contracts.
UNISON, UCU, Unite and the Bath Students against Fees and Cuts campaign have been pushing the university to pay the living wage, following Freedom of Information requests that showed that it employs more staff on the minimum wage than any other university in the country.
It is also one the highest users of insecure zero-hour contracts.
The 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.”
Joe Rayment, UNISON young members’ officer at the university, said the union welcomes the move, but “the pay increase on offer remains discretionary and can be withdrawn at any time, leaving staff without any financial security.
“The university must consolidate the living wage into staff contracts, and urgently address the issue of staff casualisation.
“It is simply not acceptable that there are now over 2,000 workers on exploitative zero-hour contracts.
“We won’t stop here. UNISON will continue to campaign alongside the other campus trade unions, UCU and UNITE, until all staff have proper contracts, job security and a wage they can afford to live on.”
UNISON head of higher education Donna Rowe-Merriman wecolmed “a significant achievement as a direct result of the hard fought campaign by the activists at the University of Bath.
“UNISON has consistently highlighted the issues of those workers who were subjected to low pay and job insecurity.
“We will continue to pursue our campaign across those universities that refuse to pay their staff a living wage and also campaign to seek an end to the use of zero-hour contracts in higher education.”