At the meeting of the Oxford City Council on 20 July, Leader Susan Brown reaffirmed the Council’s unequivocal commitment to both pay and promote the Oxford Living Wage, stating that it should be a key part of Oxford’s economic recovery.
In response to question from the Oxford Living Wage Campaign chair, Jabu Nala-Hartley, Cllr Brown said she wanted to be ‘absolutely clear’ that the Council stood ‘firmly behind’ the Oxford Living Wage, not only committing to continue paying it to the Council’s own staff but also in promoting it more widely in the city.
The economic situation created by the Covid-19 pandemic made the Oxford Living Wage even more important than ever, Cllr Brown said. ‘If the economy is going to recover, people will need more disposable income. Paying the Oxford Living Wage means more money going to local businesses, its a virtuous circle. Its an argument we have made and will continue to make.’ Cllr Brown said that she would use her role in the Local Economic Partnership and the Oxfordshire Growth Board to push the Oxford Living Wage as part of an ‘inclusive economy’ agenda.
Jabu Nala-Hartley had stated that now is the time to be building solidarities and Cllr Brown concurred that now is precisely the moment to address the inequalities of the city that the pandemic is in danger of reinforcing, with both agreeing that the Oxford Living Wage was a key thread in tackling this.
Ms Nala-Hartley further appealed to the meeting calling on ‘all Councillors present to take up the cause of the Oxford Living Wage, to join the campaign, and argue for the Living Wage
in their wards.’
The Oxford Living Wage is currently set at £10.21 per hour. This is the rate the Council believes is the minimum required to live sustainably in Oxford. It is reviewed every November. 28 employers, including the Oxford Bus Company and several Oxford colleges, charities and businesses, currently pay the Oxford Living Wage. In March, Oxford University made a £5.5m commitment to join the scheme.
The Oxford Living Wage Campaign is made up of citizens, activists, faith groups and trade unionists, and works to encourage more employers to pay the Oxford Living Wage, and to help underpaid workers organise in support of it. They hold a drop-in workshop every Saturday on Zoom from 10am where anyone interested in campaigning on low pay and the Living Wage is welcome.
On Saturday, the Oxford City Living Wage Campaign joined the Greater Headington branch of the Labour Party to campaign for the Oxford Living Wage in Headington. We handed out our leaflets and signed people up to the idea that Headington itself should be a Living Wage Zone – that its anchor institutions and big employers should be paying a minimum of £10.02 to all of its staff.
We will be following this up with a workshop on 14th May at the Town Hall, at 7pm, which will take us through the next steps of fighting for the Living Wage in Headington.
On 26th January, a successful training event was held by the Living Wage Foundation, on the lessons of the Heathrow Living Wage campaign.
In a two-hour session, organisers from the Living Wage Foundation took us through the work of West London Citizens in building the momentum necessary to turn Heathrow Airport into a London Living Wage employer.
Around thirty Oxford activists, representing unions, parties, churches, faith groups and workers attended, and began the work of applying the lessons to our city, and our campaign.
It is the first in a series of training sessions – join our campaign to be kept up to date of the upcoming activities.
You can make the change that you have the power to compel – Living Wage Foundation