by Dulcie Lee
King’s has agreed to pay at least the London Living Wage (LLW) to all staff for all new contracts and will renegotiate existing contracts with immediate effect, after overwhelming agreement from the College Council last night.
The change will most notably affect King’s’ cleaners, some of whom are struggling to feed their children, who will see their pay rise from £6.31/hr to £8.80/hr.
In a statement Rick Trainor, principal of King’s, said: “The College has now considered all the legal and financial issues relating to the payment of the London Living Wage to contract staff. We recognise the strength of feeling within the College community on this subject and have reached the conclusion that this is the right thing to do. We intend to move forward as rapidly as possible.”
The Council decided against the Principal’s Central Team’s recommendation to phase it it in over two years, instead deciding that it should come in with immediate effect.
Sebastiaan Debrouwere, president of King’s student union (KCLSU), said: “This is going to change the lives of hundreds of sub contracted staff at King’s for the better and is a small but important step to getting rid of in-work poverty.”
‘Most vulnerable people’
The announcement came after a long fought campaign by the student-led KCL Living Wage campaign, which protested outside the College Council meeting last night.
King’s confirmed that the cleaning contract that is currently being put out for tender will also benefit from LLW.
Michael Di Benedetto, one of the KCL Living Wage campaign organisers, said: “We are very happy to hear the news! This will change the lives of the most vulnerable people in the College. We couldn’t have done this without the support of the students, the staff and the sabbatical officers.”
According to sources close to the College the announcement was moved forward after increasing pressure from the KCL Living Wage campaign.
‘Proudest moment of our lives’
Anthony Shaw, Vice President for Representation and Communications at KCLSU, said: “Today’s news is absolutely sensational.
“Workers should not just be paid to survive, they should be paid to live. I am proud to see that our university is moving towards a system that is fair and where those at the very bottom are not exploited.
“This news is the best thing we could have achieved this year and it is probably the proudest moment of our lives.”
It is unclear how long the renegotiation of current contracts will take.
The College Council originally agreed to pay all cleaning staff the LLW in November 2010. However, later that month King’s outsourced the cleaning contracts and therefore cleaners were still paid below the LLW.
Since 2010, cleaners’ pay, which currently sits at £6.31 per hour, had increased below the rate of inflation.
KCLSU, which lobbied the College for the increase, still pays under the LLW for some of its student staff. However, during its AGM last month students voted to increase it to the LLW as standard, and the Student Officers say they are working to achieve it.
A decision on KCLSU paying the LLW is expected at the end of this month, when the union’s budget is finalised on the March 27.