The University of Oxford this week agreed to pay all direct employees a living wage with immediate effect. This move means an increase in the salaries of all the Universities’ lowest paid direct employees, both casual and full-time, to £7.45 an hour.

This decision represents a substantial victory for the Living Wage Campaign which has been in operation since 2006. The campaign has gained support from University staff and students as well as other universities up and down the country. The campaign has fought to increase the wages of those on the bottom rung of the University’s payroll.

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The figure of £7.45, which comprises the ‘living wage’, is calculated by taking into account the basic rate of living, which is higher than the current government-implemented minimum wage of £6.31. This figure rises to £8.55 for those employed in London.

Daniel Turner, press officer for the Oxford University Labour Club, told Cherwell “We’re naturally very pleased that the University has agreed to pay all direct employees a living wage. OULC members have worked hard alongside the Living Wage Campaign, and we will continue to agitate for fairer pay for college staff and for those employed indirectly by the university.

“The Labour-controlled City Council is a living wage employer, and Labour’s 2013 manifesto for Oxfordshire calls for the County Council to do the same. Our work is part of a broader movement in Labour Students to spread the living wage in Britain’s universities, with several major successes so far.”

Sarah Santhosham, OUSU charities chair told Cherwell, “For many years the OUSU Living Wage Campaign has been pressing for staff employed by the University and its Colleges to be paid an amount that they can afford to live on, in collaboration with many student groups, community groups, the Council and most importantly the workers themselves.

“It is a very welcome development that all directly employed staff are now being paid a Living but the problem of poverty pay still persists for the hundreds of contracted workers at the University and much remains to be done. The OUSU campaign will keep on fighting for these changes, while actively continuing to support campaigns run by students
across the Colleges.”

The university’s recent decision does not affect those indirectly working for them, such as the employees of contractors. In a document published on the 15th March by the university’s personnel services it was stated that “The Personnel Committee has made no commitments relating to future increases in the Living Wage or to employees of contractors who are working on university premises. A working party will be set up to consider how to assist departments who wish to pay the Living Wage to the employees of university contractors.”

The document went on to state that “A working group is being set up to consider how best to assist departments who wish to ensure that staff of contractors working on university premises are paid at the Living Wage. More information on this will be available in due course.”