Cambridge University to pay staff the living wage

Image credit: Tristan Martin

In a great victory for staff and campaigners alike, Cambridge University has today announced that it will pay employees the living wage.

From Friday 1st August, members of staff directly employed by the University will be paid at least £7.65 an hour. The decision will affect 130 workers across the University.

Although today’s announcement does not oblige colleges to pay their staff the living wage, it is hoped the decision will prompt colleges and other major employers in the city to follow in the University’s footsteps.

Currently only a small number of colleges actually pay their staff the living wage, as was revealed in January, when figures obtained by a Freedom of Information request showed that over 1,000 members of staff were paid below £7.65 per hour. Only three colleges paid their staff the living wage. In February, King’s – the worst offending College – announced that it would raise staff pay to meet the living wage benchmark.

The Cambridge Universities Labour Club (CULC) – which runs the Living Wage campaign in partnership with CUSU – announced on their Twitter that today’s news was “a terrific victory for the campaign.”

Rory Weal, CULC’s Publicity Officer, hailed the university’s decision to pay more than one hundred employees at least £7.65 an hour. He said that “It is demonstrative of the fact that student political activism really can make a tangible difference – an important point to remember going into the General Election next year.” He conceded however that “With the vast majority of colleges still refusing to pay their employees enough to live a decent life on, the hard work is far from over.”

The wage, which currently stands at £7.65 per hour outside of London, is calculated annually by the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University. This figure is the amount required for an individual to afford the basic costs of living. Campaigners maintain that adopting the living wage not only supports Cambridge’s economy but also helps low-paid workers cope with spiralling living costs in and around the city.

In November, the National Union of Students released a report which showed that more than half of UK universities pay some of their staff below the living wage. The report also revealed that university vice-chancellors earn 15 times more than their lowest paid staff.

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