Ed Miliband: Premier League football clubs that pay their players millions can afford to pay employees the living wage

'Firms that can afford to pay multi-million pound salaries at the top need to explain why they will not pay the living wage to those at the bottom'

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Indy Politics

Premier League football clubs should pay all their employees the living wage, Ed Miliband said yesterday as he contrasted their earnings with players on £100,000 a week.

If he becomes prime minister in May, the Labour leader would put pressure on the clubs to pay more than the £6.50-an-hour national minimum wage.  He has given his full backing to a grassroots campaign targeting football clubs by local Labour parties and MPs. The living wage is worth £7.85 an hour or £9.15 an hour in London.

In a Facebook post, Mr Miliband singled out football,  the law and accountancy for criticism, saying: “Firms that can afford to pay multi-million pound salaries at the top need to explain why they will not pay the living wage to those at the bottom.”

He added: “I know there are many brilliant executives in this country who deserve to be well-rewarded, but there is a strange disconnect in the debate today. For example, this weekend, many people will be going to football matches where the stars are paid six figure sums every week, but those who work at the stadium are often paid significantly less than the living wage.”


Mr Miliband urged other clubs to follow the lead of  Chelsea in London and Hearts in Edinburgh, which have become “living wage” employers.

He pointed out that almost all the big banks now paid the living wage. “More needs to be done in sectors like law and accountancy which are estimated to have more than 1,000 employees paid upwards of £1m a year – but cleaners, security guards and caterers who take care of them at work often struggle to make ends meet at home,” he said.

The number of people earning below the living wage has risen from 3.4m to 5.3m since the 2010 general election, while FTSE 100 directors saw their rewards increase by 21 per cent last year. Chief executives at the biggest companies now earn 130 times more than their average employee --and 300 times the living wage.

Although a Labour government would not make the living wage compulsory, it  would offer tax rebates to employers who sign up to it and ensure that companies winning public sector contracts pay it.

Labour would “name and shame” firms by requiring them  to publish the ratio of the pay of their top earner compared to their average worker and the pay packages of the 10 highest paid employees outside the boardroom.

The party would put an employee representative on remuneration committees to  ensure the views of ordinary staff were heard when decisions are taken on  top pay packages. It has pledged to simplify executive pay packages so they have a basic salary and  only one extra performance-related element where necessary.

Labour would force  investment and pension fund managers to disclose how they vote on pay and bring in binding votes for shareholders on remuneration packages in advance, rather than after approval by boards.