Following the decision by Reading Borough Council to move to pay the living wage to staff and contractors, a campaign has been launched to call for the University of Reading to do the same.
Some students and staff, the Reading University Labour Society and Matt Rodda, the prospective Labour parliamentary candidate for Reading East, are all supporting the campaign, which they hope will ease the serious financial pressure faced by 378 staff and students working in catering, cleaning and other roles at the university who are currently paid below the living wage.
Campaigners point out that this is despite the 33 highest paid staff at the University earning more than £4 million between them in 2013.
Based on 2011/12 figures, to pay minimum wage staff the living wage would cost £365,000 per year – less than the £515,000 per year the University spent on recruitment agency fees that year.
Campaigners also believe that the University, which is one of the top Universities in the country, has a responsibility to act as a good employer and pay the living wage, particularly in town like Reading, which is one of the 10 most expensive places to rent in the UK.
The students employed by the University tend to be undergraduates who face the greatest challenges in paying the new £9,000 tuition fees or post graduates struggling with the increased cost of living.
Campaign co-ordinator and University of Reading student, Chris Foye, said “By reducing absenteeism and turnover, improving productivity, and incentivising work, the living wage is good for employers, employees and society as a whole. A World Class University like Reading should pay staff enough to live a basic life, not as little as they can get away with.”
Matt Rodda, prospective Labour parliamentary candidate for Reading East, said “Hundreds of staff and students are squeezed by the high cost of living. Reading is a very good and very successful University and all its staff deserve a fair deal. I hope that the University will act as a responsible employer and set to work to pay its staff the living wage.”
The campaign is non-party political and would welcome the backing of all those who agree with its principles.
The petition can be found at: www.change.org/petitions/university-of-reading-pay-your-staff-the-living-wage where there is more information on the case for the University of Reading to pay the Living Wage.