Unions call on Preston's university chiefs to pay staff Living Wage

Protesters are planning a public demonstration outside UCLan's new multi-million pound flagship building tomorrow - because they say the institution isn't paying all staff a living wage.

Wednesday, 22nd May 2019, 8:45 am
Updated Wednesday, 22nd May 2019, 9:45 am
Derek Barton

The lunchtime rally, in front of the new Engineering Innovation Centre, by Preston and South Ribble Trades Union Council, is part of a county-wide drive by Lancashire Association of Trades Councils to persuade employers to sigh up to the Real Living Wage.

Union leaders say the university, one of the largest employers in the area with around 3,000 employees, has so far failed to commit to paying the Real Living Wage.

The national living wage, the statutory national minimum wage for those aged 25 and over, increased 4.9 per cent from 1 April , from £7.83 to £8.21. The living wage is an informal benchmark, not a legally enforceable minimum level of pay, and currently stands at £9 an hour outside London.

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Artist impression of UCLan's new EIC

A spokesman for P&SRTC, Derek Barton, said: "In not committing to paying its lowest-paid employees the Living Wage, UCLan is out of step with other universities in our region, including Manchester, Liverpool John Moores, Bolton and Salford universities which are accredited by the Living Wage Foundation.

"Furthermore, refusal to pay the Living Wage is at odds with UCLan’s status as an ‘anchor institution’ of the ‘Preston Model’ of community wealth building."

Derek added: "We sincerely hope that as one of the largest employers in the region - and one which prides itself on taking its social responsibilities seriously - UCLan will commit to signing up to the Living Wage Foundation.

"In doing so it will join the growing list of employers in Preston that have understood the benefits - both to their workers and their organisations - of paying the living wage."

A spokesman for UClan said that 95 per cent of staff are paid equivalent to or above the Real Living Wage and added: "The Living Wage Foundation figures are important benchmarks, but they do not recognise or reflect the provision of excellent wider reward packages and benefits that universities such as UCLan offer.

The spokesman added: “UCLan is committed to providing pay and benefits, conditions of employment and working environments that maintain its position as an attractive employer, locally, nationally and internationally. When added together, the university’s staff reward package is significantly more generous than the Real Living Wage as it includes pension provision, enhancements in annual leave, sick pay, maternity, paternity and adoption leave, as well as financial subsidies with a range of transport providers.

“The university will remain committed to its longstanding position of fair reward for the lowest paid staff members and to continued dialogue with staff representatives, trade unions and campaigners.

"As with at least 70 percent of higher education institutions, UCLan does not seek formal accreditation as a Voluntary Living Wage employer.”

The protest will take place between noon and 1pm and will not impact on student exams.