Campaigners held signs bearing the names and crests of the 30 colleges which have yet to be Living Wage accreditedJess Ma

More than 20 people rallied outside Senate House at noon yesterday, calling for all non-academic college staff to be paid the minimum wage. The rally was organised by the Cambridge University Living Wage Campaign, CUSU and Cambridge Universities Labour Club (CULC), and lasted for around half an hour.

The rally-goers demanded that all of the University’s 31 Colleges seek to become accredited as living wage employers. Thus far, only one college, Queens’, is an accredited living wage employer.

Earlier this year, in February, the University committed to pay at least the Living Wage to all its direct employees, however this does not apply to the constituent colleges, which act as independent institutions.

Yesterday’s rally received support from both students and local officials, with Alex Mayer, MEP for the East of England Region, and Lewis Herbert, leader of the Labour-majority Cambridge City Council, giving speeches alongside CUSU President Evie Aspinall.

Herbert said that he does not accept the idea that colleges may act as independent employers, despite remaining part of a single university, and suggested that it would be better for college bursars to work towards paying the living wage together, rather than undertaking efforts “bit by bit” as individual smaller-scale organisations.

He also announced plans for a City Council team to work alongside the University to seek living wage accreditation for its constituent colleges.

Mayer congratulated the rallying students on the success of their campaign thus far, and described the living wage as a “win-win-win situation” for workers, taxpayers, and the economy as a whole.

Speaking about the future of he Cambridge University Living Wage Campaign, organiser Edward Parker Humphreys told Varsity that it will focus on fostering autonomous student action on a college level, by organising student groups to campaign individually within their colleges and by establishing contact with college employees.

He stressed that there is “a lot of ground to cover” in the ongoing Living Wage Campaign, adding that this is “not something that can be done just as a top-down effort” but must, rather, be a grassroots movement.


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Parker Humphreys said that a living wage table of all the colleges will be launched to reveal the progress made within different colleges. Regarding future goals, he said that he hopes to make accreditation the norm among colleges, citing the fact that while more than ten Oxford colleges are already Living Wage accredited, Queens’ College remains the only Cambridge College to achieve this.

The current living wage in the UK, as calculated by the Living Wage Foundation, is £9.00 per hour outside of London, and £10.55 in London.