Saturday, 24 September 2011

Update on Senate House London Living Wage and Sick Pay Campaign

Many apologies - I meant to post a recap of developments in the London Living Wage campaign at Senate House, and have just not got round to it. So here goes.

The demonstration on September 14 was a great success, attended by around a hundred staff, workers and students (particularly impressive outside term time), and addressed by MPs John McDonnell and Frank Dobson (as well, of course, as our local branch chair Tony Mabbott).

Many thanks to all the University of London staff who gave up their lunchtimes to attend - this was much appreciated by all the directly affected workers concerned.

The University of London chose to close access to the cloisters from the Russell Square car-park, but I'm sure the prospective students arriving for their open day gained a pretty clear idea of some of the issues likely to be affecting their University careers.

The University also sent senior management to address organisers, as well as producing a leaflet affirming their commitment to payment of the LLW.

Unfortunately, their current position still sems to be that the LLW will be introduced by July 2012. There is no timetable for this, no guarantee that jobs and hours-worked will be protected, no explanation of how wage differentials will be maintained, no acceptance of the year-on-year LLW ladder, no mention of the cost of providing sick-pay, and no figures.

Despite frequent requests by the Senate House UNISON branch, and promises on behalf of the University, no costings have been provided as evidence for claims that it would be impossible for the University to introduce the LLW now.

Unfortunately, our members (cleaners, porters, postroom workers, caterers, security guards) earning below the £8.30 per hour which has been agreed independently as being the mimimum wage to live in London have lost faith in unsubstantiated promises and delays. We have been asking for the LLW for over a year now, and are now being told it cannot be paid for another year (despite neighbouring institutions now moving into their third year of LLW compliance).

The Senate House London Living Wage and Sick Pay campaign will therefore be holding its next demonstration, to coincide with Freshers week, welcome new students to Bloomsbury, and introduce them to some of the realities of student life, on Monday October 3 outside Senate House. The Senate House Branch of UNISON will be supporting this demonstration, and it would be great to have as many members there in support of our fellow workers.

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