In recent months the Guild has reviewed the affordability of paying the Living Wage to student staff. Payment of the Living Wage has been a feature on current and previous Officers’ manifestos, and has recently passed through ‘Your Ideas.’
In looking into the affordability of implementing the Living Wage, we calculated that it would cost an additional £95K in 2017/18 alone.
To afford the Living Wage the Guild would need to implement significant changes. To ‘find’ this money would not only pose a significant financial risk to the Guild, but also impact on the Guild’s ability to deliver value for money to students and how we deliver activities. This would include increasing the price of food, drink and tickets within Guild run venues, such as Joe’s Bar, Fab n Fresh and Grad Ball to make the implementation affordable.
This decision has not been taken lightly by the Officer Team and the Trustee Board. Whilst we believe that paying the Living Wage is important, and the morally right thing to do, we are concerned over the way it would be financed and made affordable, as well as the impact it would have directly on students who use our services and participate in activities.
In light of this, and the detrimental impact we believe this would have on the student experience at Birmingham - which is ultimately what the Guild is here for - we have concluded that the Living Wage is not presently affordable. Therefore, the Guild will not be implementing the payment of Living Wage at this time. As Trustees of the Guild, the Officer Team were directly involved and support this extremely difficult decision.
As a Students’ Union, we have a commitment to remaining good value for money and to offering you food, drink and services at affordable prices. The Officer Team did not want to make a change which would have a wider impact on the running of the Guild, student staff, and students at the University of Birmingham without students being aware of the associated implications.
Student staff are an incredibly valued part of the Guild, and it is with great pride that we employ over 300 students to work at the very frontline of our service delivery across a range of different departments and services. We know that this issue was raised by students and is important to our student staff, and we actively want to improve the support we provide to students who choose to work at the Guild whilst studying. As part of our work moving forward, we want to work with our student staff to understand and consult on key issues, and know more about their experiences of working at the Guild – so that we can make improvements based on feedback. Ultimately, we want to ensure that student staff love working for the Guild and get the most from their time working with us.