St. John’s announced this week that it has officially gained Fairtrade status, and become the eleventh college to join the Oxford Living Wage campaign.
Uchechukwu Ukachi, John’s JCR President, told Cherwell that the changes were achieved through the collaboration between the JCR, MCR and some members of the college staff.
He said the changes were “fantastic”, adding, “the JCR believes that this is just the beginning of our commitment to Fairtrade and living wage.”
Although Oxford Brookes became the world’s first university to attain Fairtrade status in October 2003, and Oxford itself has held Fairtrade City status for over five years, Oxford University has not yet become Fairtrade. The University would need over two thirds of colleges to conform to Fairtrade Foundation rules to qualify.
Philip Coales, JCR Vice President, said, “The Fairtrade certification is a strong move and we are also looking into sustainable fish sources. Soon the only cod served in college will be a healthy portion of Modern Warfare.” Edward Love, Environment and Ethics Officer, said it was “an absolute pleasure” to see the college officially become Fairtrade.
Following discussions which began last year, the college will also ensure that all scouts see their wages increased. Those with a GNVQ (General National Vocation Qualification) will be paid a Living Wage while staff without a GNVQ are encouraged to obtain this qualification for a further pay rise.
The Living Wage Campaign, which “calls for every worker in the country to earn enough to provide their family with the essentials of life”, sets the Living wage at £7.20 an hour, an increase of nearly 20% on the national minimum wage of £6.08.
The Chair of OUSU’s Oxford Living Wage Campaign, Carys Lawrie, called the changes “a great achievement”, adding “we are hoping this will lead to increased pressure on other colleges to follow suit.” Speaking on the campaign, she said “We aim to have everyone in the university understand why the Living Wage matters, and more specifically to work towards having a campaign in every college which does not already pay the Living Wage. We are also hoping to encourage those colleges who do pay a Living Wage to work towards accreditation as Living Wage Employers.”
Dan Stone, OUSU Charities and Community Vice President, commented, “This decision shows a commitment to ethical employment practices and the just treatment of workers across the globe. We welcome the decision and hope that other colleges will follow suit despite the tough economic times”.