Photo: Ann Yip

241 members of staff paid less than living wage

241 workers at Warwick University are being paid below the living wage, a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by Warwick For Free Education (WFFE) has revealed.

The University responded by saying they “do not hold the ‘living wage’ as a benchmark for fair pay”.

They also argued that the pay of full-time staff who fall below the living wage are elevated above the threshold through a bonus.

WFFE felt that this was an entirely “insufficient measure” which allowed the University to “cheat many workers out of the pay they need to live”.

This has added to a myriad of concerns from WFFE over the way in which the University is managed, culminating in student protests on tuition fees and the wage of vice-chancellor Nigel Thrift.

WFFE held a ‘Pay Day Party’ in January with the aim of highlighting how in one day of work, Nigel Thrift earns more than the total annual earnings of the lowest paid university staff member.

The issue of being a ‘living wage employer’, however, is not exclusive to Warwick University. 39 other universities have employed more than 100 staff who do not earn wages which match up to the living wage standard.

Nonetheless, WFFE felt that their demands for the University to change its practices were perfectly reasonable, arguing that there is no solution to the problem except “the immediate and comprehensive raising of all wages paid by the University”.

They added: “this shows unequivocally that the University is engaged in the creation of huge wealth inequality and the impoverishment of essential support staff in order to maximise financial surplus”.
According to WFFE, the University’s payment procedures are a “devious calculation” to increase profit.

They cite how full-time and part-time division of contracts allow for part-time staff to effectively fulfil full-time hours.

241 staff are listed as not being paid the living wage, with the University’s FOI response omitting the state of low pay amongst externally contracted employers – this includes cleaning service staff.

Teaching staff who are paid on an hourly rate are also not included in this figure.

Teaching staff are not paid for the hours of preparation done in advance of seminars, which WFFE says amounts to a “sub-poverty wage”.

WFFE summarised their stance on the wage policy by saying: “No bullshit bonuses which cheat staff out of essential pay – we need the living wage for every hour worked.”

However, Peter Dunn, head of press and policy, urged: “we did take steps last year to ensure that no member of staff was paid at a rate below that figure.

“We understand that the people who set the living wage figure have chosen to increase it relatively recently.

“The University has undertaken once again to review our payment structures, in light of this recent change.”

Mr Dunn also stressed: “My understanding is that even for temporary teaching staff they are paid an hourly rate that is designed to recognise that there may be thought or action required outside the explicit teaching period.”

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