Living Wage at Vic – a coalition of student, staff, and communities members- held its second Living Wage Day at Victoria University of Wellington on Wednesday, 22 May.
Students, staff, and community members gathered to highlight the fact thatcleaners, tutors, and research assistants are amongst those who are paidbelow the Living Wage at Victoria University of Wellington and again demand Professor Grant Guilford pay a Living Wage to all university employees. Over 550 messages of support and thanks for cleaners at the university were displayed around campus and will be presented to the university managementto show the strength of peoples’ support for the living wage. As onestudent wrote:“You are the heartbeat of this institution. Without you, it wouldflatline”Two cleaners at VUW, both earning the minimum wage, spoke of thedifficulties of working long hours in a demanding, low-paid job and thepressures this puts on their families. One staff member, Rebecca Kuach, asingle mother of five gets up at 4:30am and is never home before 6pm:“I always worry when my children arrive home from school and I’m not there.I really worry about my kids, especially the young ones. I have to workthese long days because I also worry about bills – rent, power, children’sschool uniforms and shoes, school fees. I worry about the cost of transportand making sure I have the $10 for parking each day. I love my job, butit’s tough, and it’s dirty being a cleaner. We’re happy to do it, but weneed to be paid a Living Wage. Our work is important, and we do a great jobat it, but it’s tough living like this”.Rebecca had shared her story at the first VUW Living Wage Day. While theTEU has achieved the Living Wage for most directly employed staff, for someworking at Victoria University’s campuses the situation has not changed.Living Wage organiser Lyndy McIntyre says “there are around 80 cleaners atVictoria University. They work long hours in a dirty job and the universitywould shut down quickly if they weren’t there. It’s time to value theseworkers with the pay they need and deserve”.Living Wage student activist Marlon Drake read a message from a tutor whowas fearful speaking up about his low pay would affect their employmentafter being told not to discuss his employment agreement or wages withcolleagues.“The inconsistency and the attempts to stop conversations about them(wages) is ridiculous, alongside the lack of a Living Wage. Our wages alsoweren’t adjusted by the same amount as the minimum wage increase. As astudent looking at marking assignments every day for the next few weeks,each taking roughly an hour, I know that the work I do deserves to berecognised by a wage that lets me focus on my studies, rather than makingrent”.TEU Branch President Katy Miller says: "We want Victoria’s seniorleadership team to work with us and follow Wellington City Council’sexample. Let’s show that Wellington is a progressive city that values itsworkforce and is committed to all students, workers and their familiesbeing able to live decent lives".The TEU’s national industrial strategy includes a national claim for theLiving Wage in all TEU negotiations. We will continue to make this claim inall our collective agreement this year.