Yesterday, Oxford University confirmed that it will become an accredited Living Wage employer in April 2015. At the same time, Oriel and Wadham announced that they will also be seeking accreditation.
All three institutions do currently pay all directly employed staff at least the Living Wage, which is currently set at £7.85 for everywhere outside of London. Their commitment means that they will now pay the Living Wage to all who work on site, including third-party contracted staff.
Following official announcements from Wadham and Oriel, Pembroke College have also committed to accreditation following a meeting of their governing body. Ben Nabarro, Pembroke JCR president, commented, “This has been a central issue for the JCR and it’s fantastic to see Pembroke commit to accreditation. Pembroke does currently pay the Living Wage but it’s important to give staff the security of a binding commitment. Colleges have an obligation to be responsible employers.”
OUSU’s Living Wage Campaign has been lobbying the university since 2011 to accredit. Fergal O’Dwyer, the campaign’s co-Chair, 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.”
— OUSU (@ousunews) January 23, 2015
Stephen Goss, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Personnel and Equality) commented, “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.”
Ruth Meredith, OUSU VP (Charities & Community) was also exultant at the news. She said, “Today, we have finally won. 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.
Speaking to Cherwell, O’Dwyer stressed that, although this is a significant milestone, it’s vital that the campaign use this momentum to push for every college to become accredited, saying, “With the success at the central university, the focus now turns to those colleges who still refuse to accredit or even pay a Living Wage. We’re encouraging people to start college campaigns. The central University has set a massive precedent: there is now no excuse for poverty pay in Oxford.”
The Living Wage Campaign are planning to host an equipping session where those who have led successful campaigns can share tactics with others looking to push for accreditation in their own colleges. It aims to help students who are unfamiliar with the college’s decision-making processes or bringing motions to the JCR.
Henriette Willberg, Wadham SU’s Charities, Environment and Ethics Officer, was one of the leaders of Wadham’s campaign to accredit. She said that Wadham’s decision was the result of “the continuous campaigning and engagement that has gone on within the college and all those members of the SU (over 230) who signed the open letter. We hope that Wadham’s accreditation can lead the way for other colleges in the near future.”