Oxford University is to receive accreditation as a Living Wage employer in April 2015, according to an OUSU announcement made this morning.
Wadham and Oriel Colleges have also announced today that they will be receiving accreditation.
Fergal O’Dwyer, Co-Chair of the Oxford Living Wage Campaign, said: “This is the most significant event in the campaign’s history. Getting the University to accredit has always been our most salient aim, and I’m proud of the work that the campaign has done toward achieving this.
“We are currently riding a wave of considerable momentum, and it is important that we convert this into real pressure on colleges who still refuse to pay the Living Wage. Now is the time to act, and this news is testament to the fact that actions of students and staff can make real, lasting change.”
Dr Stephen Goss, Pro-Vice Chancellor, also expressed his support for the move, stating: “I am very pleased that the University is taking this step. It guarantees the Living Wage to all our employees and will ensure that, as we revise or set up new agreements, the staff of contractors who work regularly on our premises also receive the Living Wage.
“Today’s announcement represents the culmination of several years of constructive working with students who, with the support of OUSU, have been campaigning for this important change.”
OUSU’s Living Wage Campaign has been actively campaigning since 2011 for Oxford University to become a Living Wage employer.
Ruth Meredith, OUSU VP for Charities and Community, commented: “The decision will improve the lives of people across Oxford. By accrediting, Oxford University is making an unequivocal statement that poverty wages are unacceptable, and have no place in our community. They are listening to the voices of the people who work with and for them, and taking it seriously.”
The Living Wage is an hourly rate for employees, calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK. Currently standing at £7.85, it is annually updated, and is considerably higher than the legally enforced minimum wage of £6.50 for over 21 year-olds.
According to the Living Wage Foundation, an independent study has found that more than 80% of employers believe the Living Wage had enhanced the quality of their staff’s work, while absenteeism had fallen by approximately 25%.
Wadham and Oriel are also announcing their Living Wage accreditation today, which comes following several months of campaigning on behalf of students. Oriel voted to become a Living Wage employer last term, and at Wadham, an open letter encouraging accreditation was circulated through the JCR last term, collecting around 230 signatures.
Lucy Halton, Wadham SU president, said: “We are very very excited about Wadham’s decision to seek accreditation from the Living Wage Foundation! It’s something the SU have worked really hard towards and feel passionately about, and is a great step towards eliminating some of the huge inequalities that remain in Oxford.”
The minutes for Wadham SU’s 8th Week General Meeting, held in Trinity 2014, state that “as a matter of principle, we should take an interest in the lives of those who work for the university, which provide our education and, should they have concerns about their work, be prepared to stand by them in advocating change”.
Whilst Oxford University has been accredited, the vast majority of colleges are not. Sam Couldrick, also Co-Chair of Oxford Living Wage Campaign, noted: “While this is a great victory which ought to be celebrated, there is still more to fight for. Some colleges still refuse even to pay the Living Wage. I hope that this announcement encourages all colleges to think seriously about the respect and security they give to their staff.
“The announcement gives us a huge momentum boost that can hopefully be translated into wider spread, long-lasting change. For the first time in the campaign’s history, the tide is with us.”
PHOTO/Living Wage Foundation