July 31 2014 Latest news:
Sunday, April 6, 2014
The town hall’s finance chief is piling the pressure on Arsenal Football Club to start paying its staff the London Living Wage.
Labour Cllr Andy Hull, Executive Member for Finance, believes it is ‘shameful’ that the gunners still don’t pay the £8.80 per hour dished out to employees by 550 companies across the capital.
Caterers, cleaners, programme sellers and stewards at the Emirates Stadium are among those being employed either directly by Arsenal or through a contractor whose wages fall below the standard.
Mr Hull said: “We at Islington Council have written to the club repeatedly to urge them to follow our lead by going Living Wage. These meetings and letters have borne no fruit.
“Arsenal could be the first Living Wage team in the Premiership, the most lucrative football league in the world. It could lead the way by showing that fair play on the pitch can be matched by fair pay off it.
“For hundreds of workers at the club, it would mean earning enough to live on, not just enough to survive.”
Last Saturday, The North London branch of Citizens, the community organising group, held a demonstration at the Arsenal’s home game against Manchester City at the Emirates asking the club to pay the Living Wage.
The group has protested on the issue before, but this time were asking Arsenal to match their opponents, as City is planning to become a living wage employer.
Citizens Leader Jo Bownas said: “London Living Wage is not complex or political. It just needs Arsenal to have the courage and the vision to do the right thing.
“Their record in the local community is excellent and we know fans and local residents will give a huge welcome to Arsenal paying the London Living Wage.”
In response, an Arsenal spokesperson said: “Our employee remuneration packages exceed the London Living Wage requirements. Ultimately this is a matter for national legislation”.
On this issue Mr Hull went on to say: “The Living Wage campaign is about cash in a worker’s pocket, which they can spend freely, not other perks. If tackling the scourge of working poverty in one of the world’s most expensive cities is political, then so be it.”
Islington Council’s stance on the campaign has meant the borough now has the highest concentration of accredited Living Wage employers anywhere in the country.
Arsenal had a financial turnover of £242.8 million last year, with players’ wages standing at £155 million. Star player Mesut Özil earns £130,000 per week alone, a figure that would take an average Arsenal worker seven years to reach if they worked full-time.