Unison criticises Durham University for not paying 600 workers the living wage (From The Northern Echo)
For details on how to contact our editorial and commercial departments, click here
Unison criticises Durham University for not paying 600 workers the living wage
A UNION has condemned the North's leading university after it emerged it was paying nearly 600 of its workers less than the living wage.
Figures obtained by the trade union Unison under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act show Durham University paid 597 staff less than £7.65 an hour, despite having a £4.5m underspend on its staffing budget.
Unison also found the university, which charges students £9,000 a year in tuition fees and pays its vice-chancellor £232,000 a year, had underspent on staffing by £14.9m over the last five years.
Unison regional organiser John McDade said: "It is disgraceful and shameful that Durham University blatantly refuses to treat their lowest paid employees with some dignity and pay them the living wage rate.
"They clearly can afford to pay this - they simply choose not to.
"Lifting low paid workers out of poverty wages and letting them have dignity should be a priority for the university which lauds itself as a centre of academic excellence, while failing to value its low paid staff."
Mr McDade claimed the taxpayer was effectively having to subsidise the university, as many of its lowest paid workers, such as cleaners, porters, security guards and clerical staff, were reliant on benefits.
Durham University has repeatedly been criticised over its refusal to pay the living wage and this year also saw strikes over pay, as part of a national dispute.
A Durham University spokeswoman said Unison had not raised the living wage as a major concern in any local union consultative meeting but the university strived to maintain a good reward package for all its staff.
She also said university staff enjoyed other benefits including a secure final salary pension scheme, to which the university made a 12 per cent contribution of salary.
She continued: "We implemented an additional pension scheme through auto enrolment in April 2013 for eligible members of staff.
"This resulted in an additional 379 members of staff being enrolled into the auto enrolment pension scheme.
"With these variables in play and given the lack of control over the formula and the factors used to calculate the living wage, it is possible that adopting the living wage is simply not sustainable in the medium term as a pay policy which helps to maintain job security for our staff."
Comments are closed on this article.