Wembley pupils urge FA to 'pay the London Living Wage' to all workers

Ark Academy pupils are urging the FA to become an accredited Living Wage employer

Ark Academy pupils are urging the FA to become an accredited Living Wage employer - Credit: Citizen's UK

Pupils are urging Wembley Stadium to sign a pledge and publicly commit to becoming an employer accredited Living Wage to all maintenance workers including third party contractors.

Students from Ark Academy school, in Bridge Road, with support from London Citizen's UK, have been lobbying the Football Association (FA) for the past five years. The pupils want the FA to have changed their policy before they graduate in June 2022. 

Ark Academy pupils with Citizen's UK, asked the FA to sign their giant pledge

Ark Academy pupils with Citizen's UK, asked the FA to sign their giant pledge to become an accredited Living Wage employer - Credit: Citizen's UK

The FA said it pays all its staff the Living Wage but would not confirm that it is an "accredited" employer.

Armed with a “pledge card”, the student campaigners invited the FA’s new head of corporate affairs, Edleen John, to meet them at the stadium entrance on July 8, sign the card, and publicly commit to the staff, who have been vital to the stadium’s re-opening.

More than 65,000 fans will attend the UEFA Euro 2020 final between England and Italy on Sunday with tickets ranging from £400 to £950.

But students say staff in the stadium including cleaners, catering staff and stewards – crucial to making the game happen safely - are struggling to keep their heads above water earning “poverty pay”.

Yr 10 Ark Academy pupils taking action during Living Wage Week 2018,

Yr 10 Ark Academy pupils taking action during Living Wage Week 2018, who are now in Y12 and still asking the FA to commit - Credit: Citizen's UK

Adriarna Clarke, a Year 12 student, said: “Across the country, people have been clapping in support of key workers. But clapping doesn’t pay the bills.

Most Read

"While football could finally be coming home, all too many workers at Wembley Stadium are still returning home to poverty wages, despite the fact that without them the stadium wouldn’t be in a position to reopen its doors safely."

The stadium submitted a report to Brent Council in November 2020 stating that it would uplift all its workers to the London Living Wage rate of £10.85 per hour by June 2022.

However, unless Wembley Stadium officially accredits with the Living Wage Foundation, the public won’t know whether this is the case for all staff, including subcontracted workers, and the stadium won’t be under any obligation to adjust its wages year on year in line with the cost of living.

Adriana welcomed this, adding: "This can’t come soon enough for the mostly BAME and migrant workers, whose communities have been hardest hit by the pandemic.

"That’s why we invite the FA’s Head of Corporate Affairs to meet us, sign our giant pledge card and publicly commit to making Wembley Stadium an accredited Living Wage employer by June 2022, if not earlier.”

Fellow student Ruth Mowarin, added: "We live nearby and see how much rubbish is left in and around the stadium after match days and other events.

"We know that Wembley Stadium’s staff work hard, so it’s high time for them to take a fair day’s pay home.”

Ark Academy students carry their Living Wage pledge towards Wembley Stadium

Ark Academy students carry their Living Wage pledge towards Wembley Stadium - Credit: Citizen's UK

Delia Smith, principal at Ark Academy, said: “Our school is hugely proud to have been one of the first employers in Brent to accredit with the Living Wage Foundation back in 2014.

"We value all our staff, including our cleaners and caterers, and believe they should earn a wage they can live on.

"In turn, this makes our staff even more motivated to work at our school.

"If we can afford to do this with our limited funds, then surely so can Wembley Stadium.

"Our message to them is: join the Living Wage movement and help us end in-work poverty in North West London.

"You can set a powerful example to other local employers as we emerge from this devastating pandemic.”

Matthew Bolton, executive director of Citizens UK, said: “It simply isn’t right that thousands of contract workers - including cleaners, caterers and security guards - are struggling to keep their heads above water".

An FA spokesperson said: "The Football Association is a not-for-profit organisation which invests all profits back into English football on an annual basis.

"All FA employees are paid the Living Wage or above and all those that work in London are paid the London Living Wage or above.

"We remain committed to paying living wage rates over a phased period with several of our key contractors, including our stewards, being paid the living wage from the start of the 2021/22 season."