In Living Wage week, Labour Students hosted a Living Wage reception with Movement for Change at Millbank. Joined by a number of organisations – including NUS and UNISON – it was an opportunity not only to celebrate previous successes, but look forward to the new and developing campaigns with Labour Students across the country.
The event was opened by Rachel Reeves, who began by congratulating Labour Students and Movement for Change for the Living Wage introductions achieved so far. ‘Labour is leading the way…I’m so looking forward to next year when we can announce that even more universities and local authorities are paying the Living Wage.’ Rachel also pointed out a stark fact: if the minimum wage had increased at the same rate as the wages of those who earn the most in the country, it would now be nearly £19 an hour.
Our very own Chief Executive, Kathryn Perera, opened her speech with some exciting news: Labour Students at Leicester, after working with Movement for Change, have won a commitment from Leicester Student Union that they will pay the Living Wage for anybody who depends on that income. The SU has also committed to widening that to all staff (including student employees) over the next few years.versations about equality and respect’ which can change people’s lives. Reaffirming his commitment to the Living Wage, he expressed his outrage that people can work full time in Britain and still be unable to support their families? You can listen to what Chris Fabby, also from UNISON, had to say here.
Also in attendance were UNISON activists who spoke with real passion about the Living Wage campaigns they had won with their colleagues over the past year. Fran (pictured here with Roger McKenzie), from Manchester College, explained that the introduction of the Living Wage had a huge impact on her family: ‘I can now afford to take the kids on day trips to Blackpool every now and again, and being able to enjoy that time with them that I couldn’t before with them is fantastic.’
Danielle Grufferty, the Vice President of NUS, (but a proud Labour Student in a personal capacity), outlined the campaign NUS has begun with Citizens UK to work with Student Unions across the country to push for the introduction of the Living Wage.
There was also the presentation of new research from Professor Jane Wills at Queen Mary University London, which highlighted that those who are paid the Living Wage feel better about themselves and have less mental health issues than those who don’t. Previous research has also highlighted the economic benefits: it is estimated that if the 20% of London workers who are not currently paid the Living Wage were, it would save the Exchequer nearly £1bn. She also spoke to Movement for Change about why she thinks having a Living Wage at universities is particularly important.
David Miliband MP closed the event, sharing his belief that although hope can lead to action, action can often lead to hope. This is why Movement for Change will continue working with Labour Students throughout the coming year to use community organising techniques to win the Living Wage at even more university campuses: watch this space!
You can listen to the Chair of Labour Students, Emma O’Dwyer, talking about the importance of the Living Wage campaign here.
If you are interested in running the Living Wage work at your university, please get in touch.