Tuesday, 12 October 2010

UCL cleaners must wait five years for a living wage

Campaigners who thought they had secured a big pay rise for cleaners at one of the UK’s most prestigious universities have been shocked to learn that some of the low paid workers won’t get the money until 2015.
University College London (UCL) announced it would be implementing the London Living Wage of £7.85 per hour after a campaign by cleaners, students, trade unions, and the local media.
The London Evening Standard reported the victory just five days after the paper had ambushed the provost of UCL, Malcolm Grant, at a community outreach event and questioned him about low wages.
Mr Grant earned £404,000 last year – more than the bosses of Oxford University and Cambridge University.
The small print in the UCL promise to increase cleaners wages said that the rise would not be implemented until the current agency contracts come up for renewal – in some cases that will take five years.
Students and staff lobbied the university’s governing council meeting on Wednesday October 6 to complain about the delay.
And now the UCL branch of the University and Colleges Union (UCU) has appealed for information from other workplaces where cleaners have won the London Living Wage.
The UCU wants the answer to these four questions:
- How long after your campaign was told that the London Living Wage would be paid did the cleaners get the money?
- Who paid for the wage increase, the institution where the cleaners worked, the agency that employed them, or a combination?
- What changes to the existing contracts were actually made?
- How did you argue to management that the agency staff shouldn't have to wait?
Organising low paid workers employed by private companies should be at the forfront of the trade union movement.
And our employment laws should allow university lecturers and other workers to take industrial action in support of low paid colleagues.

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