Prominent figures line up to support Living Wage campaign

MP Caroline Lucas is supporting the Living Wage campaign ©Lisa Camps

The University of York Living Wage Campaign continues to grow as Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper, Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MP and co-author of ‘The Spirit Level’ Richard Wilkinson became the latest to sign a pledge of support for the cause.

The figures’ backing comes as a petition for the Living Wage at the university has acquired over 800 signatures in the last few weeks.

The Living Wage campaign on campus was formed in response to FoI requests which found that over 100 members of staff, and up to 640 including casual workers, currently receive less than the Living Wage.

Campaigners are soon to meet with senior management to discuss the implementation of the £7.20 pay rate deemed by the Centre for Research in Social Policy to be the necessary amount outside of London needed in order to enjoy a comfortable standard of living.

Fourteen London universities have already implemented the higher rate of pay, and the campaigners feel that York should be the next to implement the scheme to tackle what many have called “poverty-pay”.

Lisa Camps, chair of the University of York Green Party, said: “The fact that we have distinguished members of parliament offering their support just goes to show the national importance of the Living Wage campaign and compels senior management to listen. At a time of economic hardship, paying the Living Wage is the right thing to do.”

Camps added: “In the UK, only the pay of those at the very top has risen in real terms for the last three decades, hopefully this will be a step forward in redressing that balance.”

Campaigners argue that awarding the Living Wage to staff at the university will help to decrease the growing pay gap that currently stands at 16:1, with Vice-Chancellor Brian Cantor earning around £260,000 – which equates to £5000 for every week of the year.

Commenting on the campus campaign at the launch event on March 5, Richard Wilkinson, an expert and author on inequality, said: “I’m quite sure you will win this.”

Attendance at Living Wage events held at the University of York has been growing as the campaign builds and has attracted the attention of Heslington Cllr David Levene and YUSU President-elect Kallum Taylor, who were among the attendees of the launch event on the 5th March.

Labour Club Chair Rhiân Davies commented: “The reception we’ve had from students has been overwhelmingly positive, people really appreciate that everyone deserves a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work."

The Living Wage campaign is a cross-party campaign, with Labour, UoY Greens and the Liberal Democrats all involved, and the committee meets at 14:15 every Thursday in V/122.

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