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Students campaign for University fair pay

University fair pay

By Amy Wong

The University of York Green Party and Liberal Democrat societies want all employees to earn a living wage

The University of York’s Green Party and Liberal Democrats societies are working together to campaign for fairer pay at the University.

The campaign is part of a national movement by the Young Greens, which was introduced to York by the University’s Green Party at the start of May.

It aims to ensure the lowest paid worker at the University earns at least ten per cent of the salary of the highest paid worker. The current ratio between the highest and lowest salary at the University is 16.49:1, meaning that the highest paid employee earns more than 16 times the lowest.

The organisers of the Fair Pay Campaign also want directly employed workers to be paid the Living Wage. The Centre For Research in Social Policy calculated this to be £7.65 per hour for people living outside London.

According to a University spokesperson, the University “made a unilateral decision last year to raise the salaries of the lowest paid employees to a rate higher than that recommended by the Living Wage”, which campaigners have recognised. However, they want contractors to pay their workers the living wage as well.

The University explained they “prefer” to use direct labour because it “allows [them] to ensure that employees are paid fairly”, adding that its employees “enjoy a range of benefits, including generous pension provision and holiday and sick leave entitlement”.

Supporters of the Fair Pay Campaign have also said that the salaries of the Vice­ Chancellor and senior management should be published.

However, the University told Nouse: “The Vice­ Chancellor’s salary is published annually in the University’s financial statements, while the salaries of senior managers are also listed in bands in the same document.”

The financial statements for the last academic year show that the Vice­ Chancellor received a salary of £231,016, alongside £5,168 in benefits in kind. There was also £40,767 in lieu of pension contributions, which ceased to be made in December 2012.

The Fair Pay Campaign’s Change.org petition, which will be presented to senior management, has currently been signed by 72 people out of a necessary 500, whilst their Facebook page has 122 ‘likes’.

The campaign is backed by the University of York branch of the University and College Union (UCU) and several YUSU officers, including Kallum Taylor, YUSU President, but it is hoped YUSU will hold a referendum which will allow them to officially support the campaign.

When asked, Taylor commented on the proposal, saying: “I’m more than happy to lend any support and involvement with this campaign. The change has to start somewhere, and we can really set a best practice to be proud of here.”

According to the University of York Green Party, they are “looking for more societies to join the campaign, we currently have the Lib Dems on board and are waiting on a response from Labour.” 

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