Trade unions win reinstatement of Living Wage at University of Bath

Senior managers at the University of Bath have agreed to proposals from UNISON and other trade unions to reinstate a minimum hourly rate of £8.75 and to seek accreditation with the Living Wage Foundation.

UNISON, the public service union representing the 300 staff affected, has welcomed the decision as an urgently needed first step towards addressing low pay, but warned that more must be done to tackle well publicised inequality at the university.

UNISON warned that while this is a positive move it will only help those working Monday to Friday. Those who work at weekends won’t necessarily see any increase in their overall pay. Negotiation and consultation over weekend working enhancements is still ongoing.

The Living Wage is updated every year to match the rising cost of living, so Foundation accreditation would commit Bath University to future wage boosts for its lowest paid staff in accommodation, hospitality and estates.

The University Court voted overwhelmingly in support of the Living Wage in January 2018 but the Vice Chancellor’s Group refused to raise pay unless the lowest paid staff agreed to sacrifice their Weekend Working Supplement. University bosses scrapped this condition after UNISON moved to ballot affected members.

The University of Bath began paying a Living Wage in 2015 in response to trade union campaigning, but hasn’t paid the Living Wage foundation rate since it increased to £8.45 an hour on 1 November 2016. The University now propose to pay the 2017/18 rate (£8.75p/h) from May.

UNISON, Unite and UCU have been calling for the reinstatement of the Living Wage and in November 2017 UNISON used local pay negotiations to request that the university seek accreditation with the Living Wage Foundation.

Christopher Roche, UNISON branch secretary at University of Bath said:

“We are pleased that university senior management have agreed to reinstate a Living Wage. Staff and students were appalled when university bosses sought to force low paid staff to choose between their weekend protections and receiving a living wage. The prospect of a consultative ballot for industrial action seems to have persuaded university management to reconsider and agree to pay a Living Wage unconditionally.

“A Living Wage is the absolute minimum any worker should expect, particularly in an organisation that chooses to pay its senior managers as much as those at the University of Bath. UNISON members stood their ground to demand a Living Wage and I hope they serve as an inspiration for other workers in the area.

“We look forward to collectively addressing the remaining problems at the university, including maintaining appropriate enhancements for staff required to work weekends, the lack of pay progression for staff on lower grades, their under-representation in university governance and the widespread use of zero hours contracts. After a torrid 18 months of bad publicity, I hope the reinstatement of the Living Wage marks a turning point in the way our university is run.”

Further information
  • UNISON, Unite and UCU are the recognised representative trade unions for staff at the University of Bath.
  • The Weekend Working Supplement is a contractual pay enhancement and protection against excessive weekend working for the lowest paid staff at the University of Bath.
  • Previous living wage success at the University