On the surface a living wage seems like a simple concept. At its base level it represents what an individual should earn in order to obtain or maintain an acceptable quality of life. Recently in the United States that concept has been argued ad nauseam with two schools of thought battling in an unending war.
In the UK there are two factors to consider when it comes to paying employees. There is the Living Wage which is an informal benchmark one must earn to cover the basic costs of living. Currently, that amount is set at £9.15 in London and £7.85 an hour in the rest of the UK. Is this a legal stamp that all employers in the UK must follow? No, no at all. In fact, many do not, including some major football clubs.
It is important to note that there is a national minimum wage which all employers must adhere to. Currently, the national minimum wage has been £6.50 an hour for adults aged 21 and over and £5.13 for those aged 18 to 20. A major point of contention in all general elections is the Living Wage verse the National Minimum Wage. Many Labour party officials are backing the Living Wage, however very few employers declared they are on board. This isn’t inclusive to private sector politics, the Living Wage can apply to public and governmental workers as well. Cardiff City, Birmingham, and Newcastle have all adopted the Living Wage and hope to set an example for other cities in the future.
Recently, this issue is becoming more and more prevalent in English politics, with battle lines being drawn and people choosing a side. One of those in favor of enforcing the Living Wage is London mayor Sadiq Khan. Mayor Khan seems to have an ongoing grudge with West Ham United going back to his criticism of their usage fees of Olympic Stadium. This time, however, he’s setting his sights on the East London club’s inability to adopt the living wage for their stadium workers. Mayor Khan is ‘embarrassed’ by some of these major footballing clubs are not accredited Living Wage employers.
Here’s where it gets a bit tricky. West Ham United technically only rent out Olympic Stadium 25 days of the year for games. West Ham United went on record to say:
Is that accurate? Yes and no. It is true West Ham absolutely pays the people who work in their organization at the very least a living wage. West Ham United is saying the people who work Olympic Stadium for match days are not paid by West Ham United. In that, they are absolutely correct. Fun loophole, they do pay the contractors hired to pay those workers.
Labour AM Jennette Arnold said:
Mayor Sadiq Khan isn’t wrong. Big clubs like West Ham United are using contractors to hire minimum wage workers. It’s a well known loop hole that allows West Ham to put up their hands and say, “Woah, slow down there, everyone in our organization is paid more than the living wage!” While not a lie, it’s morally gray at best.