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May 27, 2019 | by  | in News |
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Recognition of Uni’s Underpaid and Underappreciated at Living Wage Day

Living Wage Day last week brought to the forefront one of the most pressing issues shared by students and employees alike: the need for a living wage to be introduced throughout Victoria University.

 

The reintroduced Living Wage at Vic Club held an event for Living Wage Day in the Hub to highlight the significance of a living wage to key workers in the university, including tutors and cleaners.

 

One of the guest speakers was cleaner Rebecca. Originally hailing from South Sudan, Rebecca is a mother of five (with her youngest being only eight years old).

 

She told the crowd that she wakes up at 4:30 a.m. to come and start cleaning floors, bathrooms, and more around campus.

 

“My working days are long, long days,” Rebecca remarked.

 

“It’s very tough and dirty,” she continued. “We are happy to do it, but we need a living wage.”

 

Rebecca closed with a message for the university itself: “Victoria University, pay your cleaners a living wage”.

 

When asked how much their cleaners are paid, VUW said “it does not pay the cleaners directly”, though the contractor they use “is obliged to pay the minimum wage and any negotiated increases.”

 

Chief Operating Officer Mark Loveard stated that the agreement with the contractors was updated to allow VUW to explore Living Wage options.

 

A statement from an anonymous tutor was later read out by Marlon Drake, who outlined both the poor payment of many tutors, and their contracts, which limit their ability to talk openly with each other or publically about their pay conditions.

 

As part of the Living Wage at Vic campaign, students were able to submit thank you notes to staff, showing their appreciation for the hard work that they do around campus.

 

The Living Wage club received 550 submissions.

 

Members of the VUW Senior Leadership Team had a notable absence from the presentations, much to the concern of those coordinating the event.

 

“The [Senior Leadership Team’s] absence and silence speaks volumes about how much they care,” commented President of the Living Wage Club Richard Beere.

 

Beere also mentioned how students could support the cause: through joining the Living Wage Club, pressuring VUW leadership, and, of course, thanking the cleaners they see around campus.

 

Beere concluded at the event, “The uni has to get its shit together.”

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