Arsenal pressure mounts over 'shameful' wages
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Communities and also in Finance
The pressure is mounting on Arsenal Football Club to pay its staff the living wage.
Despite paying top stars like Mesut Ozil £130,000 a week, the Premier League side refuses to pay its staff such as cleaners and caterers the living wage - the amount calculated as the minimum rate needed to sustain a basic but acceptable standard of living, currently set at £8.80 per hour in London.
Councillor Andy Hull, Labour member for Highbury West and executive member for finance at Islington Council, has slammed the Gunners' stance as "shameful".
Though able to pay manager Arsene Wenger £7.5 million a year, the Gunners are yet to join 550 other companies across London that are already committed to paying the living wage.
A protest was held outside the club's Emirates Stadium last week by The North London branch of Citizens, a community organising group.
The demonstration was held during Arsenal’s home game against Manchester City - a fellow Premier League club that is planning to adopt a living wage policy.
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.”
Arsenal has said that its "employee remuneration packages exceed the London living wage requirements" and that the issue is "ultimately a matter for national legislation”.
However, many of the contractors the club uses to supply it with staff do not pay the living wage, meaning Arsenal indirectly employs people below the recommended hourly rate.
An Arsenal press officer told 24dash that the club has no plans at present to bring in a formal living wage policy.
Cllr 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.”