CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Arsenal urged to help stadium workers get living wage

Matchday catering staff employed by agency tell of struggle to find money for food during lockdown

19 June, 2020

ARSENAL are facing pressure from the council to ensure all staff employed at the Emirates stadium are paid a fair wage.

Delaware North, an agency contracted by the football club to provide part time matchday catering staff at the Emirates, has been criticised for refusing to pay the London Living Wage – which is currently set at £10.75 an hour.

The London Living Wage is set independently to take into account the high costs of living in the capital.

It is understood all staff directly employed by Arsenal are paid the living wage but this is not the case for Delaware North’s agency workers.

The company has also been accused of refusing to furlough their employees, meaning some staff have struggled financially during the coronavirus lockdown without pay.

“It’s disgusting,” said one five-year Delaware North employee who regularly works at the Emirates.

“I’m struggling to put food on my plate and in front of my children, and there has been no communication. Every email I send is ignored.

“I think the club should step in. You hear about their efforts in the community, but when will they look after the people who work for the club and who are really struggling in this crisis?”

Cllr Andy Hull

Highbury West councillor Andy Hull said: “Everybody involved in the matchday operation at the Emirates is part of Team Arsenal.

“But it would take a kitchen porter there 20 years to earn what Mesut Őzil earns in a week. At one of the richest football clubs in the world, no one should have to do a hard day’s work for less than they can live on.

“Yet that’s what the club still expects of hundreds of its catering staff, many of them local residents, who get paid less than the London Living Wage. Contracting this work out doesn’t mean Arsenal can abrogate responsibility for its workers’ poverty pay.”

Delaware North has not responded after the Tribune approached the agency for comment.

Katherine Chapman, director of the Living Wage Foundation, said: “The current crisis has shown us just how much our economy and society rely on essential workers like cleaners and carers.”

She added: “Paying a real living wage that covers the cost of living signals to workers that their employer values them and, in turn, businesses benefit from a more motivated and productive workforce.”

An Arsenal spokesperson, said: “We understand this is a challenging period for many people, especially for casual workers.

“We have been paying our directly contracted casual workers in recent months, despite the fact they have actually had no work to do for us.

“In terms of third party suppliers, we always encourage them to pay their employees the London Living Wage and include this principle in our contract renewal discussions.”

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