Students, staff and union members came together yesterday to call on the Vice-Chancellor of Victoria University to pay staff the Living Wage.
Hundreds of Living Wage supporters gathered at the lunchtime event on Wednesday to add their voice to a growing campaign calling on Professor Grant Guilford to pay all those employed by the university enough to reach an acceptable, if modest, standard of living, and to commit to extending this across the whole campus team in future.
“It was a really powerful show of support for the Living Wage,” Katy Miller, co-president of the TEU branch at Victoria University, said.
“Hundreds of staff work incredibly hard to make Victoria such a great place to work and study, but they are being squeezed as their pay packets fail to keep up with rising living costs. Unfortunately this is perpetuating inequality at an institution that has fairness as one its most important guiding principles,” Miller added.
Assistant Vice-Chancellor Pasifika, Professor Hon. Luamanuvao Winnie Laban, was on hand at the event to receive more than two thousand postcards signed by staff, students, alumni and community leaders calling on Guilford to make Victoria the first Living Wage university in New Zealand.
Laban signalled her support for the campaign and committed to taking the postcards straight to the Vice-Chancellor’s office. Miller welcome the commitment and said “Victoria has the means to set a great example for the tertiary education sector.”
Before receiving the postcards, Professor Laban, Paul Eagle, Deputy Mayor of Wellington City Council, and hundreds of others heard from low paid workers at the university about what a difference being paid the Living Wage would make to their lives.
One cleaner at the university told of how she has to get up at 4.30am to work for more than 12 hours a day to earn enough to meet living costs for her and her family. “I am proud to work here, but I am worried all the time about whether I will earn enough to provide for my family,” she said.
A member of the campus care team also told how some of his colleagues working for the minimum wage need two jobs to earn enough to survive.
“This event showed very clearly that people from right across the university community want to see staff paid enough to provide for their families without having to make enormous sacrifices just to make ends meet. We hope the Vice-Chancellor was listening,” Miller said.