CUSU Gets Serious On Living Wage

On Monday the CUSU council voted to create a permanent Living Wage Officer. JOE WHITWELL reports.

Barney Mckay cambrdge culc CUSU cusu women's campaign Greg Hill Homerton jesus college King's College living wage campaign selwyn college

In a statement following Monday evening’s vote, CUSU president Flick Osborn said that “CUSU Council’s decision to change the CUSU Standing Orders to include a Living Wage Officer is an exciting step forward for this long running campaign.”

Even more exciting is the role’s budget: £300 for the year. “It’s not quite the living wage but it’s not a slap in the face either”, commented one Selwyn Historian.

Once elected, the new officer shall be in charge of coordinating a university-wide Living Wage Campaign working with college JCRs. Osborn clarified in the meeting that the focus would first be on colleges, and then eventually university departments.

The national living wage is currently set at £7.45 though Osborn added that a Cambridge specific figure should actually be around £7.80.

It won’t clean itself.

Two colleges have implemented a living wage for all of their employees. The first to do so was Homerton, led by JCR president Greg Hill. Jesus College has since followed suit.

Some other colleges have introduced a living wage for their permanent staff only.

It has also been suggested that certain colleges cite bonuses or Christmas Parties to excuse their decision not to take on the Living Wage, when staff members would no doubt prefer a consistently higher wage all year round to keep up with the high expense of living in Cambridge.

Significant pressure  has come on certain colleges such as King’s which, despite its progressive reputation, pays “twice as many staff under the Living Wage as any other college” according to Barney McCay, who runs the KCSU Living Wage Working group.

McCay admitted “In terms of King’s, yep the situation’s pretty appalling but we’re working on it”.

Fittingly, a living wage rally organised by the CULC and the CUSU Women’s campaign is to be held in King’s College next week. The rally will then be followed by a party in King’s Bar, to celebrate the one year anniversary of the King’s Campaign.

The election for the Living Wage Officer will take place on the 11th of November.