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VUWSA Executive Officers will now be paid minimum wage, after a motion was passed at the VUWSA IGM last Wednesday affirming the change.
Prior to the vote, the six officers were each paid a $2,000 honorarium for the year, and expected to work at least ten hours per week. This was set out in the VUWSA constitution.
The need for the change was described as “an issue of access” by VUWSA President Rory Lenihan-Ikin. At the IGM, he reflected, “there are students who wouldn’t be able to run for these positions alongside the part time work they need to do to fund themselves to study.”
“As the primary body for students, VUWSA should be leading the way to create representative student roles everyone can access.”
The full cost of the move is $37,500 per year.
VUWSA have been “in talks” with VUW since 2016 about an increase in VUWSA’s Service Level Agreement to fund the initiative. However, if VUWSA are not successful in gaining financial support from VUW, Lenihan-Ikin assured the crowd that “we have enough money in the budget to cover the cost without putting any services at risk.”
At the IGM, individuals from the crowd offered words of support for the decision, pointing to the valuable work that VUWSA does.
Ali Leota, who is involved with the Victoria University Pasifika Students’ Association, commended the move. “I’ve worked alongside VUWSA and see the hard work their officers put in. I think it’s an important step.”
One member of the crowd asked if the pressure on officers could be alleviated by hiring another officer, instead of the pay increase. Lenihan-Ikin responded that “there is only a certain extent to which having more members means less work,” and that “having more focussed roles is more effective.”
The number of officers dropped from seven to six after a vote in 2013.
Lenihan-Ikin framed the move as signalling “a desire to move towards living wage employment” for VUWSA. “It’s a process […] from officers who are currently paid pittance, to paying them a sustainable wage, to paying them a living wage.”
VUWSA was one of the founding supporters of the living wage movement, and continue to lobby VUW to become a living wage employer. “If we want VUW to pay a living wage, it’s important that we are leaders in this, too.”