“We are so pleased that we will finally be paid a decent wage for our hard work,” UNISON member Consuela Ospina declared yesterday.
Her comments come after Middlesex University committed itself to making sure all outsourced staff receive the London living wage from January next year, and to seeking to become an accredited living wage employer with the Living Wage Foundation.
This follows a six-month union campaign, which made the case for pay rates which allow workers to have the basics of a dignified life. UNISON branch secretary Claire Mitham said the university’s announcement represented “a huge success for our members”.
The campaign, launched as part of Living Wage Week in November 2015, saw UNISON activists and members staff regular stalls at the university, encouraging thousands to sign a petition and a giant letter to the vice chancellor.
The London living wage is set annually by the London mayor, and currently stands at £9.40 an hour. It is reviewed each year, with new rates announced during Living Wage Week.
“Our campaign made sure everyone working and studying across the campus was aware of our members’ struggle,” said Ms Mithin.
“Our message reached thousands of staff and students and many were shocked to learn that workers on our campus were earning such low pay.”
UNISON’s campaign received support from lecturers’ union UCU and the university’s students’ union, as well as the wider Middlesex University community.
“With everyone’s support, we made our case loud and clear to management. And we are pleased that they are finally doing the right thing,” added Ms Mithin.
Middlesex University has outsourced several services, including cleaning, catering and security. ISS cleaners currently earn minimum wage and Compass catering staff earn well below the living wage.
Consuelo Ospina, who is a UNISON rep at ISS, said she and her fellow cleaners were “overwhelmed by the support everyone has given us, and by the branch’s commitment to our campaign”.
She and her fellow ISS reps, along with the branch, have now started discussion with the company to negotiate formal recognition for UNISON.
The branch has vowed to continue campaigning against inequality between outsourced and directly employed staff and to make sure that the university delivers on its living wage commitment.