Living Wage accreditation for Oxford University

Living Wage accreditation for Oxford University

Oxford University is to receive accreditation as a Living Wage employer in April 2015, according to an OUSU announcement made this morning.

Wadham and Oriel Colleges have also announced today that they will be receiving accreditation.

Fergal O’Dwyer, Co-Chair of the Oxford Living Wage Campaign, said: “This is the most significant event in the campaign’s history. Getting the University to accredit has always been our most salient aim, and I’m proud of the work that the campaign has done toward achieving this.

“We are currently riding a wave of considerable momentum, and it is important that we convert this into real pressure on colleges who still refuse to pay the Living Wage. Now is the time to act, and this news is testament to the fact that actions of students and staff can make real, lasting change.”

Dr Stephen Goss, Pro-Vice Chancellor, also expressed his support for the move, stating: “I am very pleased that the University is taking this step. It guarantees the Living Wage to all our employees and will ensure that, as we revise or set up new agreements, the staff of contractors who work regularly on our premises also receive the Living Wage.

“Today’s announcement represents the culmination of several years of constructive working with students who, with the support of OUSU, have been campaigning for this important change.”

OUSU’s Living Wage Campaign has been actively campaigning since 2011 for Oxford University to become a Living Wage employer.

Ruth Meredith, OUSU VP for Charities and Community, commented: “The decision will improve the lives of people across Oxford. By accrediting, Oxford University is making an unequivocal statement that poverty wages are unacceptable, and have no place in our community. They are listening to the voices of the people who work with and for them, and taking it seriously.”

The Living Wage is an hourly rate for employees, calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK. Currently standing at £7.85, it is annually updated, and is considerably higher than the legally enforced minimum wage of £6.50 for over 21 year-olds.

According to the Living Wage Foundation, an independent study has found that more than 80% of employers believe the Living Wage had enhanced the quality of their staff’s work, while absenteeism had fallen by approximately 25%.

Wadham and Oriel are also announcing their Living Wage accreditation today, which comes following several months of campaigning on behalf of students. Oriel voted to become a Living Wage employer last term, and at Wadham, an open letter encouraging accreditation was circulated through the JCR last term, collecting around 230 signatures.

Lucy Halton, Wadham SU president, said: “We are very very excited about Wadham’s decision to seek accreditation from the Living Wage Foundation! It’s something the SU have worked really hard towards and feel passionately about, and is a great step towards eliminating some of the huge inequalities that remain in Oxford.”

The minutes for Wadham SU’s 8th Week General Meeting, held in Trinity 2014, state that “as a matter of principle, we should take an interest in the lives of those who work for the university, which provide our education and, should they have concerns about their work, be prepared to stand by them in advocating change”.

Whilst Oxford University has been accredited, the vast majority of colleges are not. Sam Couldrick, also Co-Chair of Oxford Living Wage Campaign, noted: “While this is a great victory which ought to be celebrated, there is still more to fight for. Some colleges still refuse even to pay the Living Wage. I hope that this announcement encourages all colleges to think seriously about the respect and security they give to their staff.

“The announcement gives us a huge momentum boost that can hopefully be translated into wider spread, long-lasting change. For the first time in the campaign’s history, the tide is with us.”


PHOTO/Living Wage Foundation




OUSU VP Chris Pike suspended

OUSU VP Chris Pike suspended

Oxford University Student Union Vice President for Welfare and Equal Opportunity’s Chris Pike has been suspended following a complaint from an unknown source. His suspension will be in effect a full investigation by OUSU Complaints Commission, at which time a report will be published.


OUSU issues Consent Condoms

OUSU issues Consent Condoms

2000 “Got Consent?” condoms are set to be distributed this term as part of an attempt by OUSU to reduce the incidence of sexual assault across the University. 

OUSU Vice President for Welfare, Chris Pike, said: “We’re piloting the condoms because we think it is good to have positive messages about sexual consent around all of us, and condoms are one way of getting the message across. Combating sexual violence is high on OUSU’s priority list.”

OUSU’s actions are the latest in a series of initiatives focused on raising awareness of sexual violence, including the “It Happens Here” campaign as well as the recent introduction of compulsory sexual consent workshops to all undergraduate colleges.

Students have responded positively to the initiative, with former OUSU Vice President for Women Sarah Pine saying: “Consent is always necessary. A reminder to respect the boundaries of our partners keeps everyone safer, and means that no-one has an excuse to not check with the person they’re having sex with.”

Third-year historian Abigail Burman, an active member of the “It Happens Here” campaign, said: “Condoms and consent are both crucial parts of safe sex, so it makes a lot of sense to put them together.”

However, not all students agreed that this was the best way to tackle the problem. A second-year English student said: “It is a facile and simplistic sticking plaster solution to a problem which is culturally entrenched. Consent workshops are perhaps a more positive way of achieving the same end.” 

A female history student questioned the value of the condoms, saying: “It is naïve to think that perpetrators of sexual violence have simply forgotten about the need for consent and just need to be reminded. This seems like a bit of a gimmick rather than an effective prevention method.”

The condoms will be available from college welfare representatives from the beginning of Michaelmas.

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