Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Candidates pledge pay cuts as race reaches its climax

The Student, 03/03/09

James Ellingworth

Three of the five EUSA presidential candidates have pledged to take a pay cut if elected, adding another twist to an already eventful campaign.
Liz Rawlings, Oliver Mundell and Benedict Robbins have all said that they will either give part of their salary, currently around £20,000, to charity, or plough it back into EUSA.
Robbins has even gone as far to say that, if elected, he will only claim a wage to cover his basic needs, describing the role of president as 'an act of service', adding: “I don't see why I need to get paid.”
Mundell said that he would donate any money above that required for his living costs to charity, and called for salaries to be set on an individual basis, according to the elected candidate's needs, adding that a typical EUSA wage should be 'around £11-12,000.'
Rawlings told the Student that she would 'absolutely' take a pay cut, saying: “If it's in line with the current economic climate, I wouldn't want to be earning more than other graduates.”
She added that she saw 'no need' for EUSA salaries to be above £16,000, but rejected Mundell's call for salaries to be set on an individual basis., saying: “I don't think that's helpful, or that any other graduate scheme would set their pay levels based on a student's background."
Tim Goodwin, president in the 2006-7 academic year, was the last EUSA figure to take a pay cut as part of a campaign pledge, returning £1,300 to the association, although current president Adam Ramsay recently revealed to the Student that he has donated a 'large chunk' of his salary to charity.
James Rodger, one of the two candidates who have not said they will cut their pay, said that this 'should not be an issue', and that “the pay is fair, for what is essentially a graduate-level job.”
“Having said that, however, I would consider supporting societies who needed money for particular events I was keen on through grants from my own pay cheque,” he added.
Thomas Graham told the Student: “If I am elected I intend to earn every penny I'm paid, working full-time and concentrating 100 percent on the job right from day one.”
One current EUSA sabbatical told the Student that sabbatical salaries are calculated by adding 25 percent to the rate of student support for postgraduate research students.
This figure would place the salaries of next year's president and vice-presidents around the £18,500 mark, equating to £1,200 per month after tax, although it would also mean that EUSA sabbaticals' salaries are set to increase below the rate of inflation.
The source also described the way salaries are paid as 'dodgy', saying that he had never signed a contract to cover his work for EUSA.
There was a further development after Mundell revealed that he had considered pledging to live off a £7,000 wage as part of a campaign for a minimum income guarantee for students, but had been discouraged by current sabbaticals Adam Ramsay and Guy Bromley.
Ramsay told the Student he had not 'forced' Mundell to drop the policy, but admitted having discussed the topic with him. He added that any pledge of this sort, while 'a very noble thing to do', could discourage poorer students from standing for EUSA positions.

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