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By David Palmer
St John’s College is set to raise the wages of scouts following a decision made in its governing body at the end of last term.
The JCR passed a motion in 1st Week of Michaelmas 2011 to lobby the college to introduce the Living Wage, which is higher than the National Minimum Wage and is intended to avoid working poverty.
The decision also follows sustained pressure placed on the college management by Oxford’s Living Wage campaign and The Oxford Student.
The colleges new pay scale will see the wages of the lowest paid cleaning scouts hiked by as much as 10.9 percent.
Ex-JCR President of St John’s David Messling said: “The decision was announced in governing body at the end of last term. The outline was a rise in wages to £7.20 for all GNVQ scouts and (I think) £7.09 for non-GNVQ. All retain non-contributory pensions, which when accounted for bring all above LW level. The college is also encouraging all scouts to get the GNVQ qualification.”
Ellie Horrocks, a spokesperson for Oxford’s Living Wage Campaign said: “The Oxford Living Wage Campaign is extremely encouraged by St John’s decision to pay all GNVQ scouts a living wage of £7.20 an hour. This announcement is welcomed after tireless campaigning from John’s students and extensive coverage from The OxStu.
“Oxford University relies on its cleaning staff to function, yet the majority are not paid a wage which guarantees an adequate standard of living. In a city of extreme income inequality where a quarter of the population is in ‘significant financial hardship’ it is unjust that so many scouts are not paid a wage, which ensures freedom from poverty.
“We will continue to work collaboratively with colleges to secure a fair wage for all Oxford staff. We hope that 2012 will see all colleges follow the example of colleges such as St John’s and Corpus Christi and an end to working poverty at our university.”
One St John’s student said: “It’s about time scouts got paid a half decent wage. To be honest I was pretty disgusted when I read in the OxStu last term that, despite being the richest college St John’s pays one of the lowest wages.”
Prof. Andrew Parker, the bursar of St John’s released a statement saying: “St John’s places a very high value on all of its staff and we are particularly concerned to maintain good working relationships within the College. St John’s regularly reviews all its arrangements for catering and domestic support.”
However, Prof. parker maintained that “To the best of our knowledge, the pay for qualified College cleaning staff has always been in excess of the expectations set by the living wage calculation, after the College’s non-contributory pension and
other benefits have been taken into account.
“Last October, the national minimum wage rose by 2.5% and the College managed to make a pay settlement slightly more generous than this, against a generally difficult economic climate. Like other colleges, St John’s will clearly need to take these changes into account in setting the levels of rents and charges for future years.”