Comment: University of Bath has to ‘invest in people’

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With the University of Bath claiming it cannot afford to pay all its staff a Living Wage, it is astonishing to learn that the Vice Chancellor, Glynis Breakwell, has been awarded yet another pay rise. The VC’s salary now stands at £395,000 per year, which means she is now the highest paid university head in the country, when university size is taken into account.

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Student activists gathered today to ‘celebrate’ the VC’s £11,000 pay rise

In recent years, staff at the university have seen real terms pay cuts while senior management salaries have rocketed. Professor Breakwell lobbied for the increase in tuition fees and the recent tripling of fees has contributed to the record breaking income of the university in the last year. However, the university seems to prefer investing in buildings and the pockets of senior managers, rather than people. With the exception of Surrey, the VC’s salary at Bath includes a larger proportion of tuition fee income than any other university in the UK. And the pay inequality continues to get worse – while most staff have seen their pay reduce in value, the club of high earners receiving salaries over £100,000/year has increased from 34 in 2011 to 58 in 2014.

Meanwhile, the university is one of the highest users of “zero hours” contracts in the country, and of the 80 hourly-paid, or “casual”, job roles it lists, 28 are paid less than the Living Wage. Most of the people on these contracts, which deny staff such basic rights as sick pay and maternity leave, are students. The Living Wage currently stands at £7.85/hour and is calculated on the basic cost of living in the UK. The university management has repeatedly refused to pay a Living Wage to all staff, claiming the money isn’t there, but there seems to be enough for more management pay rises, and recent financial reports show that the university is operating on a £16.9 million surplus.

Growing Divide_

Check out bathimpact’s infographic on the issue

On top of this, it recently came to light that the university had been underpaying all hourly-paid workers by paying the incorrect rate of holiday pay for the last 5 years – a situation that amounts to theft of wages for those affected. Only after sustained pressure from UCU, UNISON and Unite, the three campus trade unions, are staff beginning to get some their money back

On the 2nd of February, Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts were joined by members of the campus trade unions for a ‘Vice Chancellor’s Day’ party to ‘congratulate’ Professor Breakwell on being paid more than two and a half times as much in a month as her lowest paid members of staff will earn in an entire year. The protest follows action on January 23rd at Bath Spa University, where students celebrated the day that their VC, Professor Christina Slade, had ‘earned’ £14,000 of her £216,000 salary. The group, labelling the pay inequality at Bath’s universities as ‘morally indefensible’, is calling for a maximum 5:1 pay ratio at both universities, a Living Wage for all staff, action to tackle gender and race inequality and the abolition of tuition fees.

To sign the petition for all staff at UoB to be paid the Living Wage, see:

https://www.change.org/p/pay-all-university-of-bath-staff-a-living-wage-end-staff-casualisation

Follow the latest updates, and get involved with Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts at:

https://www.facebook.com/freeeducationbath

For UCU’s High Earner report:

http://bath.web.ucu.org.uk/files/2012/07/High-Earners-2.final_.pdf

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