Campaign sets out first steps on road to Cambridge Living Wage

Ben Redwood 24 November 2013

King’s hosted their first meeting to discuss the coordination of the living wage campaign on a university-wide scale on Saturday.

The meeting, attended by students across several colleges, as well as local activists and Labour MP Daniel Zeichner, discussed the preliminary steps for outlining a campaign to ensure that the payment of all staff working for the University of Cambridge and its constituent colleges matches the living wage guidelines.

Ben Bayley, CUSU Living Wage Co- Officer, told The Cambridge Student that he feels the next step is a question of getting as much information out to students as possible, adding: “The current situation is horrendous because most students have no idea that this is going on.

“The campaign needs to tie in to the problem of zero-hour contracts as well, which some employees appear to also be vulnerable to. This leaves workers without rights and vulnerable to sacking at any point.”

The living wage campaign team at Queens’ College hopes to pass a bigger motion through their JCR in a meeting this Sunday. Of all of the colleges, students of Queen’s occupied the largest presence in the meeting.

When asked by a campaigner whether or not she was paid the living wage, a staff member of Queens’ College laughed aloud at the idea.

The main problem faced by campaigners seems to be the fact that each individual college is a separate legal entity from the University itself – the central academic and administrative body, setting its own financial agenda.

This diversity, as well as restrictions around freedom of information requests makes it difficult to gather information on which colleges are failing to meet these expectations.

In order to proceed efficiently, the campaign needs to be co-ordinated simultaneously across all colleges with smaller individual living wage campaigns. Likewise it is necessary to organise staff members to get involved alongside students in order to affect change.