Posted by: Clare Solomon | July 18, 2010

ULU agree to let Birkbeck top up bar staff pay to LLW

The University of London Union (ULU) has agreed to let Birkbeck College top up the wages of staff employed in Birkbeck Students’ Union bar so the latter can live up to its commitment to the London Living Wage (LLW).

The contract to run the Birkbeck SU bar is held by ULU which currently pays staff there the same basic wage as on the ULU site, £6.10 an hour. Since Birkbeck SU and UCU passed policy on becoming a Living Wage employer, and Birkbeck governors recognised this, the issue has been a point of contention with ULU.

Sean Rillo Raczka, Birkbeck SU Chair, said that Birkbeck had threatened to break off the contract and bring its employees in house.

He said: “We first raised this with management about six months ago because we weren’t implementing in practice our policy commitment to the Living Wage. The ULU Trustees felt it wasn’t fair to pay different rates but technically and legally the Birkbeck bar is separate to the ULU bar. Although the contract is run by ULU, it’s a different site and so different wages can be paid.”

The Trustees say that ULU can’t afford to pay the full London Living Wage, £7.60 an hour, to all its staff, but ULU will not be financially affected by the new deal. Birkbeck will cover the cost of making up the difference from August 1st, when the higher rate will be paid to staff working at Birkbeck bar.

Rillo Raczka said the details of where the money would come from were yet to be decided, but he believes the college and not the SU should foot the bill.

ULU is also likely to increase staff pay on August 1st, but it maintains that it cannot afford to pay all bar staff the full LLW. In April ULU announced that it would be able to pay cleaners the LLW after signing a contract with LPM Ltd; the new deal also saved the union £30,000.

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