Socialist Worker

Staff and students at Birkbeck College demand end to poverty pay

by Luke Stobart and Jesse Oldershaw
Issue No. 2131

Birkbeck College, an evening university for part-time students in London, saw its first protest for many years on Wednesday of last week.

Some 80 cleaners, lecturers, staff and students rallied outside a meeting of university governors demanding that they scrap poverty wages for workers.

The mainly Latin American subcontracted cleaners and caterers earn between £5.73 – the national minimum wage – and £6 an hour.

Protesters called for the introduction of the London Living Wage, currently set at £7.45 an hour.

This is a wage and benefits package established by the Greater London Authority to take into account the high costs of living in London.

The protest was supported by all the unions at the college. Union reps gave speeches alongside cleaners and activists from successful living wage campaigns at the School of Oriental and African Studies (Soas) and on London Underground.

The rally followed a large meeting with John McDonnell MP and victimised Soas union rep José Stalin Bermudez.

A letter-writing campaign has been started, supported by film-maker Ken Loach, and we are now discussing our next major action.

Since the victory at Soas, London Living Wage campaigns are spreading to more universities. These united campaigns are bringing together workers and students around left wing demands.

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Tue 9 Dec 2008, 18:04 GMT
Issue No. 2131
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