University of Sheffield Will Pay The Living Wage

16 Jul 2014

The University of Sheffield has announced plans to implement the living wage from the 1st August 2014. The university will pay its staff the living wage of £7.65 per hour, a move that will benefit around 400 of the university’s lowest paid staff. This decision comes on the back of lobbying from Sheffield University Living Wage Campaign, Sheffield Students’ Union and several trade unions including GMB. The campaign gained a broad range of support from staff, trade unionists, academics, alumni, city councillors and local Labour MPs.

Sheffield Central Labour MP Paul Blomfield, who recently spoke in the House of Commons on the problems created by low pay, welcomed the decision: “The University is one of Sheffield’s major employers and is sending out a powerful message by committing to introduce the living wage, and I hope that others will follow their lead.  Paying the living wage is an important step towards ending poverty pay and growing income inequality.”

The living wage is currently £7.65 per hour and, unlike the minimum wage, is re-calculated each year to take into account the rising cost of living. Most of those at Sheffield University who are not paid the living wage are women, making this a gender issue.

Yael Shafritz, Sheffield University Student’s Union President, said:  “The Students’ Union are thrilled that the university has decided to take this step in paying fairer wages. The living wage is not just a pragmatic response that helps staff, it is a moral imperative for any values led organisation. We’re happy to work with a university that not only values its entire staff but listens to the concerns of its students and workers. Particularly we’d like to thank the living wage campaign, which for the last 3 years has worked hard to bring this issue to the forefront of the universities’ agenda.”

Workers at the Student’s Union and contracted staff will not however benefit from the announcement.

Shafritz continues, “We also want to highlight that although this is a great step it is only the first one and we will continue campaigning and working with the university to ensure it provides the support and funding for all Unicus and Student Union staff to be paid the living wage.”

Olivia Blake, Co-Chair of the Sheffield University Living Wage Campaign and GMB member, said: “We welcome this decision and believe it will go some way to reducing pay inequalities at the university.  After speaking to staff about the difficulties they face because of their low wages, we’re looking forward to seeing an improving situation. It’s disappointing that it took so long for the university to agree to pay its staff fairly, but we hope that this is a sign of better things to come. We’re looking forward to working with the university on becoming an accredited employer with the Living Wage Foundation. We are disappointed that the university has decided against giving the Students’ Union the funding necessary to implement the living wage as well. While this is a partial victory we will continue to campaign for Students’ Union and contracted staff. GMB will not consider this a job done until they are paid at least the living wage.”

This decision follows the Fairness Commissions’ report calling for businesses and large employers in Sheffield to implement a living wage. Sheffield City Council has led the way on this recommendation and has set a good example to the university by becoming a living wage employer.

Cllr Ben Curran – Cabinet Member for Finance & Resources at Sheffield City Council, said: “I would like to congratulate Sir Keith Burnett and the Students Union Officers for the leadership they have shown in bringing the living wage to staff at the University of Sheffield. The living wage is an important tool in tackling the inequalities that exist within Sheffield. The University of Sheffield paying the living wage is good news for the city. The university employs 6000 people in Sheffield, making one of the city’s largest employers. They are doing the right thing for their staff and are contributing to our vision for Sheffield to be a city of fair pay.”