Wednesday, 25 February 2015

The Living Wage, Premiership football and the Church of England

So there has been a little bit of a hoo-ha lately about football clubs in the Premier league not paying the Living Wage. The Premier League has just secured its biggest TV deal in its history of £5.14 billion pounds. This represents a 70 per cent increase in their TV income.

The chief executive of  the Premier League in England, Richard Scudamore, who has been in the job since 1999, and who we can assume is paid rather better than the Living Wage, has come out with some rather memorable comments. One of his remarks was that it is not the clubs' responsibility to pay the living wage, is he implying that although the Premier League is awash with money they have no moral responsibility to their employees who are not on thousands and thousands of pounds a week? He has also gone on record as saying that "the Premier League is not a charity", you couldn't make this stuff up!

It should be noted here that Chelsea FC was the first Premier League club to pay the Living Wage, West Ham United followed suit in February this year. Luton Town became the first Football League club to adopt this, shortly after Chelsea took their step in December of last year.

What interests me more though is a report that came out yesterday from the Trades Union Congress (TUC). This report shows that one in five, (20%) of jobs overall in the UK pay less than the living wage! Monday 16 February until Sunday 1 March the TUC have named Fair Pay Fortnight. Currently the Living Wage is £9.15 for London and £7.85 for the rest of the UK

Among those who are not paying the Living Wage is the Church of England no less. The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby admitted that this was an embarrassment. His own cathedral in Canterbury is guilty of this, currently advertising kiosk assistant jobs paying more than a pound an hour less than the National Minimum Wage. More than two and a half years ago the church's General Synod voted almost unanimously to pay its staff the Living Wage, maybe they got distracted by loftier matters? Clearly the Church of England are not the only culprits here as the TUC have indicated in their report, This was one of the things that Frances O'Grady (the General Secretary of the TUC) had to say:

 “Extending the living wage is a vital step towards tackling the growing problem of in-work poverty across Britain." Ms O'Grady goes further:

“Working families have experienced the biggest squeeze on their living standards since Victorian times, and these living wage figures show that women are disproportionately affected. Pay has been squeezed at all levels below the boardroom, and the government’s mantra about ‘making work pay’ is completely out of touch with reality."

This is what Rachel Reeves who is the Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions had to say to the Huffington Post:  "It makes good business sense. Thanks to the efforts of campaigners, over a thousand companies now pay the living wage, including 21 FTSE 100 companies - big brands like Barclays, Aviva and ITV."

"By paying the living wage their staff are afforded the dignity that should come with a days' work." 

An update:

I read in last night's Evening Standard that nearly 100 000 social care workers are paid less than the Living Wage. This stems from a report conducted by the Resolution Foundation who are described as an independent think tank concerned with the living standards for low to middle income families. This study found that the typical wage for a care job paid £8.00 an hour during 2013 - 2014. The London living wage during that period went up from £8.55 to £8.80 and is now £9.15.


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