The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

The Living Wage: Taking Action on Poverty Pay

Sorcha Floyd, Campaigns Officer outlines why the Living Wage is so important and announces that the University of Manchester’s Living Wage Campaign is now recruiting a new committee following the announcement of a new living wage outside London

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Last Monday, the University of Manchester’s Students’ Union was fortunate enough to host the announcement of the new Living Wage (outside London). Entitled “The Living Wage: Taking Action on Poverty Pay,” the morning included a range of speakers, the announcement of the new Living Wage and variety of workshops.

Whilst the Living Wage has increased this year by 20 pence to £8.45, the case for Greater Manchester to pay the living wage remains especially clear. Wages have fallen faster than the UK average since 2009 and A New Economy report revealed that the number of people paid less than the Living Wage rose from 21.7 per cent of employees in 2013, to 24 per cent by the end of 2015. The need for such a campaign is ever more pertinent.

The University of Manchester Living Wage campaign is working to lobby the University to become LivingWage Accredited. Accreditation will ensure an ongoing commitment to keeping UoM staff above the poverty line. This move will solidify the University of Manchester’s position as a force for good in Greater Manchester.

With social responsibility embedded as one of the Universities three core values (alongside teaching and research) one would expect our University to be Living Wage accredited. With the £1 billion masterplan in place it could seem surprising that the University have not considered lifting the wages of its lowest paid staff to a fair wage.

If our university is investing more in its buildings than its people, we have serious cause for concern. One of the successes of last year’s campaign was getting UMC ltd., the university’s wholly owned subsidiary, to bring its wages in line with the Living Wage rate at the time. However the University is yet to examine the pay of all its workers (including Student Ambassadors) or commit to accreditation.

The University of Manchester Living Wage Campaign has just opened applications for a new committee (and new members as always). We will be holding an info meeting in Activities Space of the SU on Thursday 10th November followed by elections on Thursday 17th November.

You do not need to have been involved in this campaign before, just keen to secure a fair wage for those working at the University. Monday morning’s event kick started #LivingWageWeek with great excitement; attendees left feeling empowered to continue the fight for fair pay. However there is still a way to go. The living wage really does change people’s lives, and we are excited to have you involved!