On Thursday the 1st of February students and local activists from the non-profit Citizens UK requested that Manchester United “move to paying a real Living Wage to all staff and contracts in 2018.” The local chapter of Citizens UK delivered a letter requesting Man Utd to “do the right thing.”
Citizens UK acknowledged “the vital contribution that Manchester United FC makes to the UK economy as a global brand.” However, they hope the club “shows leadership … to ensure the cost of living is met for low-paid workers.” Kate Green, MP for Stretford and Urmston, and many other community leaders were signatories of this open letter.
The current call for Manchester United to increase their wages for low-paid workers follows a successful campaign in Liverpool. In late October 2017 the Living Wage Foundation and Steve Rotherham, Liverpool’s Metropolitan mayor, successfully campaigned for Liverpool FC to commit to paying their staff at least the Living Wage of £8.45 at the time. Liverpool FC is one of just three Premier League clubs to make such a commitment.
Political pressure on employers across Manchester has been mounting for the past 3 years. Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham campaigned on support for the Living Wage, stating in 2015 “we need a National Living Wage for everyone, young and old.” Two years Burnham worked with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and achieved a commitment to GMCA becoming a Living Wage accredited employer.
The Living Wage for the areas of the UK outside of London is currently £8.75. This figure has been assessed by the politically independent non-profit organisation the Living Wage Foundation. The wage is based on the cost of essential goods and services and calculated such so that low-paid workers can live comfortably.
Over 3800 organisations across the UK pay the Living Wage. One of these organisations is the University of Manchester’s Student Union, who recently commemorated their accreditation as a Living Wage paying employer with a plaque in the Steve Biko building. The on-going commitment from the SU has benefitted students across the University.
Students currently and previously employed by Manchester United believe that an increase in wages would “have a real impact on the student body”. Jack Swan, student and member of Greater Manchester Citizens leadership group, is part of the team organizing this campaign. Swan and others are in the processes of setting up a Citizens Society on campus and urges current students to join. Forthcoming campaigns include sustaining pressure for the Living Wage and ending hate crime.
Manchester United were unavailable for comment.