University dedicated to providing a decent standard of living for its employees
From the 1st of this month, Bangor University will introduce the ‘living wage’ to its employees. What makes the living wage significantly different from the national minimum, is that the living wage takes into account the cost of living. This makes the living wage of £7.80, significantly higher than the hourly national minimum, £6.50. The minimum wage is a legal requirement for employers, whilst the living wage is entirely voluntary, but has received numerous amounts of support from many parties in parliament, including the prime minister. Bangor University is a major employers in the North Wales area and the move illuminates the universities dedication to providing a decent standard of living for its employees.
Not only will the living wage increase standards of living, decrease risks of poverty and reduce family stress, it also increases the chances of greater productivity and improved quality of service from staff members in the university. The concept of the living wage extends far beyond merely economic concerns, as it recognises that the minimum hourly wage is insufficient to live healthily and happily. In 2013, 200 Bangor University staff members were paid less than the living wage. According to the living wage website, it reports that 75% of employees reported increases in work quality as a result and 50% felt that it contributed towards a better work ethic.
Whilst the move towards the living wage signifies a change, there are still problems with the execution of the living wage. The living wage would not account for contracted employees that work for the university. For example, in London major employers have often cited that they provide a ‘living wage’ as part of their advertising, however, many of these employers often use contracted employees or employees from agencies. Consequently, the living wage still faces its problems and there are still issues with the way in which the living wage is carried out. Certain employees that are contracted by the university, for example employees that are building Pontio, will not benefit from the living wage. This raises concerns over whether the university will fully commit to the living wage, by seeking contracting companies that are dedicated to providing a quality life for its employees.
The success of the move to the living wage is down to the campaigning of the Students’ Union at the university. It appears that campaigning by the Students’ Union for the living wage began in 2012 and it has certainly proved to be successful. Rhys Taylor, Student Union President, has commented:
Bangor Students’ Union has long campaigned on the issue of a Living Wage, and we’re extremely proud to see this become a reality this year. When students across the UK are choosing between heating or eating, when people’s bills cost more than what they earn, and working people up and down the country having been struggling for years, the news that Bangor will become a Living Wage employer is a massive step forward. Our University is demonstrating that even in difficult financial times, ensuring that working people can afford a basic standard of living is a commitment that everyone can and should be making.
The close cooperation between the Students Union, Trade Unions and Bangor University had remarkable results. According to research by KPMG, one in four people in Wales are paid less than the living wage. As a major institution in North Wales, Bangor University has shown solidarity and commitment to providing a better standard of living for its employees.