This week, the University pledged preliminary support to paying the living wage to its outsourced workers following a proposed amendment to its Sustainability Procurement Strategy.
This follows the discovery earlier this month that OUSU was only able to name four University departments that definitely paid a living wage to all workers on their premises.
The strategy, which outlines how the University can procure its goods and services sustainably, now includes a proposed commitment to “ensure that ethical considerations such as fair trade and a living wage are considered in our procurement practices”.
Provided that the amendment is approved by additional committees, including the PRAC, this will mean that the University has a strategy to support departments that wish to pay the living wage to contracted employees for the first time.
The proposed strategy also states that “social and ethical considerations are an important part of our social responsibility as a high profile employer” and commits to working towards “the benefit of individuals and communities.”
Also included amongst the six priorities outlined by the five-year strategy is a commitment by the University to consider including the fair trade status of goods in its procurement decision making.
Dan Tomlinson, OUSU Vice-President for Charities and Communities, was enthusiastic about the developments. He commented: “OUSU has been working with the University for a number of years on the issue of the living wage. Over the summer, the University agreed to pay the living wage to all directly employed staff.”
He added: “It’s great to see that the University is now looking at ways in which the living wage can be extended to all indirectly employed staff.”
The news follows an agreement made by the University over the summer to pay the national living wage to all its directly employed staff, which is defined as a salary of at least £7.45 an hour. However, during celebrations of National Living Wage Week only the Biochemistry, Mathematics and Physics departments and the Blavatnik School of Government were congratulated for their record on this issue by OUSU.
As well as the OUSU-led campaign, the living wage is supported by the Oxford University Labour Club.
Daniel Turner, co-chair elect of the OULC, said: “This is another great achievement for the Living Wage Campaign in Oxford. We hope that departments follow through on their commitment to ethical procurement and that more and more staff throughout Oxford earn more than poverty wages.”
He added: “OULC are very proud to support the cause and will continue to agitate for its wider implementation.”
The Oxford Living Wage Campaign was first established in 2006 and received its OUSU accreditation in 2011.