Keynote address III: The case for the living wage and in-house services

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Information about Keynote address III: The case for the living wage and in-house services

Published on February 5, 2014

Author: UniversitiesUK



Keynote address III:
The case for the living wage and in-house services
Professor Jane Wills, Professor of Human Geography,
Queen Mary, University of London

The case for the living wage and in-house services Jane Wills, Queen Mary University of London UUK conference Strategic Sourcing 4th February 2014

An unlikely story? • Focus today on saving money and increasing quality and productivity • Living wage is about increasing wages for those in routine service jobs … • And at Queen Mary, we brought cleaning back inhouse … how can that be strategic?

Stories big and small • BIG: in-work poverty in the UK; the economic crisis; do universities have a role to play? • SMALL(er): increased morale; decreased labour turnover; increased productivity; more attention; restructuring the service; knock-on to student experience; the brand and reputation; better local relationships.

Big Stories: The UK’s big problem Share of employees in low-paid work, by selected countries. Source: Pennycook (2012, 4). Based on 2009 data, except for France and the Netherlands for which 2005 data were used, and this uses the OECD definition of low pay as those earning less than two-thirds of the national gross median hourly wage

Big Stories: the 1 in 5 The characteristics of those earning less than the national minimum wage (NMW) and the living wage (LW) UK, 2010. Source: Savage (2011, 5). Based on estimates of Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) data, 2010

Do universities have a role to respond? Being a civic university? Google search – Newcastle: “The primary feature of a civic university is its sense of purpose – an understanding of not just what it is good at, but what it is good for. A civic university sees itself as delivering benefits to individuals, organisations and to society as a whole. It means putting academic knowledge, creativity and expertise to work, to come up with innovations and solutions that make a difference. … [pioneering] a reinvention of the traditional idea of a civic university.” Sheffield and many others state a similar vision … What difference does this make to behaviour as an employer and a neighbour? Lord Lionel Robbins Higher Education: Report of the Committee Appointed by the Prime Minister, Under the Chairmanship of Lord Robbins, 1961-63 A mass system, based on merit, for the public good focused on “a common culture and common standards of citizenship”.

Small(er) stories: Queen Mary • 1887 a ‘palace of delight’ • 1888 “to improve the scientific and technical knowledge of apprentices and workmen engaged in industrial life.” • 2014 has 17,840 students and 4,000 staff

The living wage • £8.80 in London • £7.65 rest of UK compares to £6.31 NMW 30%+ in wages in London 20% in wages rest of UK The market versus life … based on the cost of a basic standard of living. 500+ accredited firms; 1000s of workers; £millions redistributed; saving tax credits for Treasury.

A living wage campus • Campaign in 2005 – broad alliance of students, staff, local community leaders in London Citizens. • Research material also part of ESRC project: Global Cities at Work • 1 Jan 2008 most cleaning moved inhouse, the rest a year or so later. • 200 people moved from NMW to >LLW as part of QM community

Local impact? • Late 2008, interviewed 73 cleaning staff (59 of whom had transferred from the contractor; representing 24 countries of origin). • What’s changed at work? – Working more productively (68%), with more supervision (63%) and completing a broader range of tasks (61%). [Increased hours for the cleaners employed] – A good number reported aspirations to move up within the college in cleaning or beyond. • 292 non-cleaning staff surveyed – a third report changes in cleaning and of them, 83% say it’s better … more contact, increased response times. – Lots of requests for further improvements but only 4 staff (1%) opposed the move back in-house.

Local impact? • The Chief Admin Officer: – “At the end of the day, the combination of both the VAT and the improvements in performance and efficiency that you’re expecting made it a much more viable position for us to take … In this instance, the experimentation with services being provided by the private sector was a failure in my opinion. It was a failure in terms of the quality of service that was being delivered, the ability of the institution to manage that external service provider, and the failure for the individuals that were being employed. In that sort of analysis you can’t possibly come to any other conclusion.” • And he was “perfectly happy” about any increase in costs.

Costs and benefits? • Costs to HR in taking on staff • Expertise in managing the service – inheriting ‘supervisors’ who were largely untrained; sickness mgt. • Fall-out in transfer from the contractor BUT benefits too: • Control • Staff retention and training • Morale and knock-on effects in student experience • Reputation – in community and wider arena Ethnicity The ethnicity of cleaners in contrast to the whole workforce (including cleaners) at QMUL Source: Analysis of HR records from QMUL Asian Black Chinese and Other Mixed White Info refused or unknown Total All staff All staff (%) All cleaners All cleaners (numbers) (numbers) (%) 277 9 2 2 225 7 72 69 135 4 0 0 60 2 5 5 2034 65 21 20 312 10 4 4 3108 100 104 100

Big and small stories QM is “located in an area of deprivation. The cleaners live in the local area and the decision has an impact on the local community. QM has to take a high moral standing because of the nature of what we do. If we are not going to do something like that, who is? I think it’s very important that the University takes the lead in [this]. It’s the right thing.” Senior manager

Follow up resources: • Report on the experience at QMUL: • • Living Wage Foundation: • • Website with research and film: •

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