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2nd November 2018

Student campaign group asks UoM to become Living Wage employer

The campaigners planned a rally for November to encourage UoM to join the 33 existing Living Wage accredited universities.
Student campaign group asks UoM to become Living Wage employer
The University of Manchester’s Students’ Union has become a living wage accredited employer. Photo: Students’ Union

The University of Manchester Living Wage Campaign held an open meeting last Thursday to discuss its push to encourage UoM to become a living wage employer.

Employers who sign up must pay at least £8.75 an hour to employees and contractors.

It is separate to the government’s various minimum wage rates which are enforced by law. These stand at £5.90 for 18 to 20-year-olds, £7.38 for 21 to 24-year-olds.

A higher rate of £7.83 for 25s and over is called the National Living Wage but has nothing to do with the living wage campaign.

In a statement the university said: “The University recognises that the work of the Living Wage Foundation (LWF) is a means of encouraging employers to pay a minimum hourly rate of pay at the LWF rate of £8.75 per hour.

“This is commendable. The University of Manchester pays above the LWF rate at £9.04 per hour and in addition has an excellent package of terms and conditions.”

On Twitter it said: “… at the current time, we do not feel there is a need to become accredited, as we review our pay rates and raise them in line with the LWF rate.”

Second-year Politics and Sociology student Jack Swan acknowledged that the University does pay most of its employees fair wages, but challenged it to go even further by seeking accreditation.

He said: “There’s no reason why the university shouldn’t accredit as a living wage employer. It won’t be a huge issue for them to pay more — we know that they’re investing £1bn in the university and that the number of highest-paid staff members has increased a lot in recent years.”

“We know that the money’s there. It’s a matter of leadership — it is the University of Manchester and if they want to have that title of being of Manchester they also need to be for Manchester and they need to be for the Mancunians who are keeping the rooms clean so that they can deliver that world-class service that they are proud of.”

During the meeting an email was also sent to the university’s newly-appointed registrar Patrick Hackett, urging him to consider accreditation by the Living Wage Foundation.

The email was undersigned by a coalition of students including representatives from the Labour Society, Young Liberals, Save Our Staff, and the Living Wage Campaign.

They invited Mr Hackett to their upcoming rally calling for the University to become Living Wage accredited.

Swan told The Mancunion that he hopes Mr Hackett comes to meet them to engage with some of the workers who would be positively affected by accreditation.

“We all want this to be a positive relationship. The university is in a position where it can have a real influence. We want to study at a university which takes the lead on these issues and make us proud.

“Let’s work together to improve conditions to make this university and the community that it’s embedded in a better, more financially secure place: a better Manchester… a greater Manchester.”

The campaign rally will be held on November 7 at 12:30, outside the Social Responsibility Office at 186 Waterloo Place and will call for the university to join the 33 universities that have already been accredited.

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