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UoN staff and students protest the University’s employment standards

This morning students and academic staff at the University of Nottingham (UoN) took to Trent Courtyard to protest the University not implementing a Living Wage.

Around a hundred students and staff members gathered early Tuesday morning carrying cleaning supplies to show solidarity with the cleaning staff, the University’s lowest-paid employees.

Speakers on behalf of the academic staff and the SU, as well as guests from the University and College Union and the local UNISON branch, expressed their dissatisfaction with the University’s employment standards.

Ellie Mitchell, SU Community Officer, speaking to the crowd

Ellie Mitchell, UoN SU Community Officer, spoke on behalf of the students who attended: “With this protest we are putting a letter on the Vice-Chancellor’s desk signed by the cleaners asking her to come and spend a morning with them on their shift. It’s not a massive ask, we’re just asking for some decency.”

The letter was signed by about 50 cleaners and campaigners.

The culmination of the event was reached when the University Registrar came out of the Trent Building to receive the letter on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor.

“[The] next step [is] to see how the chancellor responds to the letter we sent. Hopefully, she’ll be open to having a working relationship with the campaign group and negotiations can start”, says Natasha Bednall, SU Environmental & Social Justice (ESJ) Officer.

Protesters holding up cleaning supplies to show solidarity with the cleaning staff

 

The protest saw a big turnout of academic staff showing support for their underpaid colleagues.

A member of the academic staff shared their dissatisfaction with the University’s stance on employment: “I think it’s appalling that the University that calls itself global have staff working under such conditions, and this goes together with the recent staff cuts.”

Matt, a final year student at the protest, noted it is important for students to get involved with the campaign: “Students shouldn’t get stuck in their political bubble.”

Speaking of the protest, University of Nottingham Registrar Dr Paul Greatrix, said:

“We pay the equivalent of the Voluntary Living Wage. All staff on our current (2016) pay framework are paid at least in line with the Voluntary Living Wage, and we will ensure the same happens again in 2017 when current pay negotiations have concluded. Staff also receive benefits that rival those of many major employers, including pension, sick pay, parenting leave and medical services.

“Like the majority of universities, we have not signed up to the Voluntary Living Wage, because such external pay codes could restrict our ability to deliver pay settlements and financial stability across the University as a whole. We respect today’s protest, and are happy to remain in dialogue with campaigners.”

Goda Naujokaitytè

Featured image courtesy of Kristina Kiminiute 
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