Exclusive: Manchester United branded 'beyond arrogant' by campaigners over failure to pay all workers 'real' Living WageExclusive: Manchester United branded 'beyond arrogant' by campaigners over failure to pay all workers 'real' Living Wage
Manchester United have been branded “beyond arrogant” after campaigners revealed the club had repeatedly ignored requests for a meeting with Ed Woodward to address their “grotesque” failure to pay all workers there the “real” Living Wage.
Despite pledging more than six months ago to respond to an open letter signed by almost 2,500 people - including United’s MP and the Bishop Salford - calling for talks between Woodward and civil-society alliance Manchester Citizens, Telegraph Sport can disclose the world’s richest team have failed to do so.
It can also be revealed five subsequent requests for a meeting went unanswered, prompting a demonstration outside Old Trafford ahead of tonight’s opening match of the Premier League season between United and Leicester City.
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Today’s action will see Manchester Citizens, a branch of campaigning charity Citizens UK, parade a giant football plastered with messages from United fans demanding all who carry out work there are paid at least £8.75 per hour.
A huge calendar will also be unveiled in an attempt to shame Woodward into agreeing to meet campaigners, who want a club representative to write down in public a date for that meeting.
The activity will take place almost a year to the day since the Telegraph exposed the extent to which a commitment in 2015 by Premier League clubs to pay an independently-calculated living wage to all permanent staff was being undermined by their ongoing use of cheaper casual labour.
That included by United, who were accused in February of compounding “a grotesque tale of two halves” regarding wages after making Alexis Sanchez the highest-paid player in English football history.
Furqan Naeem, who has spearheaded Manchester Citizens’ requests for a meeting with Woodward, said: “As a Manchester United fan, I feel very ashamed. It is disgraceful that, despite us asking for meetings for six months, the club has been completely unresponsive.
“The fact that the richest club in the world doesn’t pay its staff – including caterers, cleaners and stewards – a wage they can live on is embarrassing. Everyone is entitled to a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.”
Sean Ryan MBE, a Citizens UK leader from Caritas Diocese of Salford added: “It is beyond arrogant that Manchester United is treating staff like this and has not even replied to our letter, let alone met us to discuss paying a real Living Wage to all staff and contractors. We want the club to be at the heart of a caring city that doesn't stand for in work poverty.
“Ed Woodward should listen to fans and the community and meet us at the earliest opportunity.”
Rogers Govender, the Dean of Manchester Cathedral said: “It’s a real disappointment that Manchester United, the world’s richest football club, is still not paying staff the real Living Wage and that Ed Woodward hasn’t at the very least given the community a meeting to discuss the issue.”
The fact that the richest club in the world doesn’t pay its staff – including caterers, cleaners and stewards – a wage they can live on is embarrassing
The fact that the richest club in the world doesn’t pay its staff – including caterers, cleaners and stewards – a wage they can live on is embarrassingFurqan Naeem
United declined to comment yesterday on their failure to respond to repeated requests by campaigners for a meeting with Woodward but the Telegraph has learnt a club representative will be made available to meet protesters today.
In February, a spokesman also said: “Manchester United pays its staff competitive salaries for the jobs they undertake.
“We have many variations of contracts in place due to the size of the club, although all permanent employees, whether engaged on a full or part-time hours basis, are paid the Voluntary Living Wage, in line with the Premier League agreement.
“Staff welfare is very important to the club and we consistently score in the top quartile of employers measured in independent surveys on staff satisfaction.”
Since the Telegraphexposed the scale of Premier League clubs’ failure to pay all workers an independently-calculated Living Wage - which is higher than the statutory National Living Wage - only West Ham United have joined Chelsea and Everton in becoming an accredited Living Wage Employer.
Liverpool and promoted Fulham have committed to doing so, Manchester City are on the brink of following suit, while Cardiff City promised after their relegation in 2014 to consider accrediting were they ever to return to the world’s richest league, which is close to concluding global broadcast deals expected to make its members - and their players - wealthier than ever.