University staff need a living wage

Registrar and Secretary David Duncan has informed Nouse that the university would not seek Living Wage Foundation (LWF) accreditation for the university. He stated that although the “university currently pays all its staff at rates above those set by the Living Wage Foundation”, its trading subsidiary York Conferences Ltd. (YCL) pays some staff below this rate. According to Mr Duncan, this is in order to “compete with other businesses in the city where wage rates are significantly lower”.

It cannot be right that some staff in our university are being paid below the amount required to live on. Some universities have LWF accreditation, such as Cardiff University and Glasgow Caledonian University, to name but a few. It is time to examine how these institutions are able to provide a living wage, and attempt to emulate them. A restructuring and a consideration of changing our subsidiary employers should be researched.

However, ultimately the issue is competition. As David Duncan said YCL have to compete with other companies who have “significantly lower” wage rates. This demonstrates that it is imperative for the government to implement living wage legislation if this issue is to be solved. Companies must not be reimbursed for the decency and fairness of offering a living wage by being out-competed by those who pay their employees inadequately. An economy which rewards unfairness is not an economy we should maintain. If this is not done, the result will be higher costs to the state and the tax payer as a result of tax credits topping up poverty pay. Most importantly, more families and individuals will be thrown into poverty. The human costs of poverty must take precedence over economic costs.

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