Arsenal wages slammed as town hall gears up for Living Wage Week

Cllr Andy Hull joins headteacher Harsha Patel, staff and pupils at Copenhagen Primary School to cele

Cllr Andy Hull joins headteacher Harsha Patel, staff and pupils at Copenhagen Primary School to celebrate the school's accreditation as a Living Wage employer. - Credit: Archant

The town hall took a swipe at Arsenal’s pay conditions as it geared up for gala celebrations to mark Living Wage Week.

Islington Council, the first Living Wage accredited authority in the country, has lined up seven days of talks, walks and a huge projection for the event - which runs from November 2 to 8.

A flag will be hoisted above the town hall on Monday, shadow Minister for Care and Older People Liz Kendall will visit the borough on Tuesday and on Thursday a Living Wage walk will take place along Upper Street.

The council is the only authority in the UK to pay all care home workers the Living Wage, as well as all directly employed staff, but Cllr Andy Hull, Islington Council’s executive member for finance, couldn’t resist having a dig at the Gunners, who have yet to sign up.

He said: “No-one should have to do a hard day’s work for less than they can live on.

“I am proud the council is putting its money where its mouth is to recognise the dignity of work.

“Everyone who cares for our parents, cooks our kids’ meals, staffs our pools and keeps our offices safe and clean deserves to earn enough to live on.”

He added: “We have also convinced other local firms and charities to go Living Wage, with 75 Islington organisations now accredited as Living Wage employers – the second highest number of any area in the UK.

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“It’s a shame that Arsenal FC, one of the richest football clubs in the world, still isn’t one of them, but together with Citizens UK and Gooners themselves the campaign to change that continues.”

In response, an Arsenal spokesperson said: “Our employee remuneration packages exceed the London Living Wage requirements. Ultimately this is a matter for national legislation.”

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.

In 2012, the council became the first accredited Living Wage authority after cutting the chief executive’s salary by £50,000 and paying the London Living Wage (LLW) to its cleaners directly employed staff.

It also built the LLW into care home contracts, including paying them for travel unlike several local authorities criticised in a recent report by union Unison,

Rhys Moore, director of the Living Wage Foundation at Citizens UK, said: “Islington Council continues to lead the way on the Living Wage.

“They set an early example by being the first accredited Living Wage council in the UK.

“And since then the council has worked tirelessly to encourage other employers in the borough to do the same.

“It’s a great example of local government taking a lead on a vital issue, and making a real difference to the local economy.”

The council say it will now use its £918 million pension pot to persuade FTSE 100 companies to adopt the Living Wage.

n 2012, council top brass were left red-faced when, during Living Wage Week celebrations, Labour leader Ed Miliband spoke out against unpaid internships at the Town Hall, even though the council had unpaid work experience placements at the time.

A council spokesman said current policy was not to employ any unpaid interns, but could not confirm whether any where in place at the moment.

The Living Wage, calculated according to the basic cost of living, is £7.65 per hour in the UK and £8.80 per hour in London – although this figure is expected to rise on Monday.


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