Why Celtic Should Become A Living Wage Employer – by Jeanette Findlay

Why Celtic Should Become A Living Wage Employer.

With the AGM approaching we asked Jeanette Findlay of the Celtic Trust to put the case for Celtic becoming a ‘Living Wage’ employer. We are delighted that Jeanette, who works tirelessly on behalf of the trust and Celtic fans in general submitted the following piece.

Celtic FC , the first football club in the UK to be a Living Wage Employer ……sounds good doesn’t it?  Sadly, unless they have a change of heart between now and Friday it isn’t going to happen.   It sounded a great idea when we first came up with the proposal to take to Celtic – doing something right and good and doing something which will generate good publicity and doing something which makes good business sense, reduces turnover, improves staff moral, increases productivity and results in happier ‘customers’!  What’s not to like in that?

This month the Living Wage was uprated (as it is every November) to the princely sum of £7.60 per hour which is all of £1.29 above the National Minimum Wage.  It is a sum calculated so that individuals and families can have an ‘acceptable standard of living’ ie not just  be condemned to a life of piecing together two or more low paid jobs to keep body and soul together.  If we refuse to pay wages at that level to our own workers ie those employed by the company which we shareholders own, then in what way are we truly ‘more than just a club’?  Is our social ethos and morality now just a marketing gimmick?

The Living Wage is supported by hundreds of employers – some of them leading companies in their sector, some of them extremely large public sector employers – and it is supported by government, local and national and north and south of the border.  It is not some whacky, revolutionary idea from those mad-cap scamps the Celtic Trust who everybody knows are just doing this to annoy the rich people on the Board – we actually thought it was a serious proposition which they would grab!  How foolish where we………..well, maybe not.  The Celtic PLC Board has a long history (as long as we have existed) of defeating our resolutions at AGMs and then adopting them sometimes very shortly thereafter.  If that is what they are doing this time then I think we can just about live with that.

This is not an academic publication so I am not going to bore you with the statistics on the continuing rise in-work poverty, the evidence on the productivity impact of paying better wages….an argument some people have no trouble with at the higher end of the wage scale but seem to have trouble with at the bottom end.  According to them the people at the top of the salary scales need more money to work harder and those at the bottom need less to produce the same effect!  I will simply leave you with the words of that well known extremist John Swinney, the Finance Secretary of the Scottish Government:

“This Government fully supports the Living Wage Week campaign and the principles of a living wage, which can make a real difference to people’s lives. We are firmly of the view that employers should reward their staff fairly, which is why all public sector staff under our direct control receive at least the Scottish Living Wage rate and will do for the duration of this parliament. It is good news that more than 400 companies and organisations across the UK are now officially accredited Living Wage Employers and by supporting the accreditation project, we are encouraging all public, private and third sector organisations in Scotland to do likewise.”

This is an idea whose time has truly come and we as a club which has a proud history of firsts (we all know what they are) should add this first to our continuing history and record.  Celtic Football Club, the UK’s first football club to be a Living Wage Employer.

 Jeanette

You can follow Jeanette on Twitter @JeanFind  and the Celtic Trust @TheCelticTrust

Comments

  1. does the resolution include sub contracted workers as well or only people in direct employment by the club

    1. Steven at this point it is only direct employees. The hope is that further down the line Celtic would then only take on contractors who pay the living wage. But first Celtic have to adopt it and set an example.

  2. Jeanette

    I thought it might be worthwhile reminding people that your cause is far from being new one. It has been fought for by numerous groups and individuals throughout the centuries and not more so than by Pope Leo XIII. His encyclical, Rerum Novarum, May 15, 1891 laid down some of the strongest foundations for workers rights ever known either then or since. The document is subtitled “Rights and Duties of Capital and Labor” and whilst, as one would expect, it has a strong Catholic and Christian bias, it is nonetheless a powerful document in the world of labour relations and working conditions. I have copied a few paragraphs and while I apologise for the lengthiness, I have no hesitation in using it as a reminder to those who hold the reins of what is regarded as a moral duty. Perhaps some on the Celtic board will recall their ethical obligations and act with the humanity and justice expected of them. Though the specifics in the document may relate to conditions of a different era, the principles remain unchanged.

    “That the spirit of revolutionary change, which has long been disturbing the nations of the world, should have passed beyond the sphere of politics and made its influence felt in the cognate sphere of practical economics is not surprising. The elements of the conflict now raging are unmistakable, in the vast expansion of industrial pursuits and the marvellous discoveries of science; in the changed relations between masters and workmen; in the enormous fortunes of some few individuals, and the utter poverty of the masses; the increased self reliance and closer mutual combination of the working classes; as also, finally, in the prevailing moral degeneracy. The momentous gravity of the state of things now obtaining fills every mind with painful apprehension; wise men are discussing it; practical men are proposing schemes; popular meetings, legislatures, and rulers of nations are all busied with it – actually there is no question which has taken deeper hold on the public mind…………..If one man hires out to another his strength or skill, he does so for the purpose of receiving in return what is necessary for the satisfaction of his needs;
    It is a most sacred law of nature that a father should provide food and all necessaries for those whom he has begotten; and, similarly, it is natural that he should wish that his children, who carry on, so to speak, and continue his personality, should be by him provided with all that is needful to enable them to keep themselves decently from want and misery amid the uncertainties of this mortal life………….The following duties bind the wealthy owner and the employer: not to look upon their work people as their bondsmen, but to respect in every man his dignity as a person ennobled by Christian character. They are reminded that, according to natural reason and Christian philosophy, working for gain is creditable, not shameful, to a man, since it enables him to earn an honorable livelihood; but to misuse men as though they were things in the pursuit of gain, or to value them solely for their physical powers – that is truly shameful and inhuman…………Furthermore, the employer must never tax his work people beyond their strength, or employ them in work unsuited to their sex and age. His great and principal duty is to give everyone what is just. Doubtless, before deciding whether wages are fair, many things have to be considered; but wealthy owners and all masters of labor should be mindful of this – that to exercise pressure upon the indigent and the destitute for the sake of gain, and to gather one’s profit out of the need of another, is condemned by all laws, human and divine. To defraud any one of wages that are his due is a great crime which cries to the avenging anger of Heaven. “Behold, the hire of the laborers… which by fraud has been kept back by you, crieth; and the cry of them hath entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.”(6) Lastly, the rich must religiously refrain from cutting down the workmen’s earnings, whether by force, by fraud, or by usurious dealing; and with all the greater reason because the laboring man is, as a rule, weak and unprotected, and because his slender means should in proportion to their scantiness be accounted sacred. Were these precepts carefully obeyed and followed out, would they not be sufficient of themselves to keep under all strife and all its causes?………..The richer class have many ways of shielding themselves, and stand less in need of help from the State; whereas the mass of the poor have no resources of their own to fall back upon, and must chiefly depend upon the assistance of the State. And it is for this reason that wage-earners, since they mostly belong in the mass of the needy, should be specially cared for and protected by the government…………………As a general principle it may be laid down that a workman ought to have leisure and rest proportionate to the wear and tear of his strength, for waste of strength must be repaired by cessation from hard work………..Wages, as we are told, are regulated by free consent, and therefore the employer, when he pays what was agreed upon, has done his part and seemingly is not called upon to do anything beyond. The only way, it is said, in which injustice might occur would be if the master refused to pay the whole of the wages, or if the workman should not complete the work undertaken; in such cases the public authority should intervene, to see that each obtains his due, but not under any other circumstances…………..To this kind of argument a fair-minded man will not easily or entirely assent; it is not complete, for there are important considerations which it leaves out of account altogether. To labor is to exert oneself for the sake of procuring what is necessary for the various purposes of life, and chief of all for self preservation. “In the sweat of thy face thou shalt eat bread.”(33) Hence, a man’s labor necessarily bears two notes or characters. First of all, it is personal, inasmuch as the force which acts is bound up with the personality and is the exclusive property of him who acts, and, further, was given to him for his advantage. Secondly, man’s labor is necessary; for without the result of labor a man cannot live, and self-preservation is a law of nature, which it is wrong to disobey. Now, were we to consider labor merely in so far as it is personal, doubtless it would be within the workman’s right to accept any rate of wages whatsoever; for in the same way as he is free to work or not, so is he free to accept a small wage or even none at all. But our conclusion must be very different if, together with the personal element in a man’s work, we consider the fact that work is also necessary for him to live: these two aspects of his work are separable in thought, but not in reality. The preservation of life is the bounden duty of one and all, and to be wanting therein is a crime. It necessarily follows that each one has a natural right to procure what is required in order to live, and the poor can procure that in no other way than by what they can earn through their work…………….Let the working man and the employer make free agreements, and in particular let them agree freely as to the wages; nevertheless, there underlies a dictate of natural justice more imperious and ancient than any bargain between man and man, namely, that wages ought not to be insufficient to support a frugal and well-behaved wage-earner. If through necessity or fear of a worse evil the workman accept harder conditions because an employer or contractor will afford him no better, he is made the victim of force and injustice. In these and similar questions, however – such as, for example, the hours of labor in different trades, the sanitary precautions to be observed in factories and workshops, etc. – in order to supersede undue interference on the part of the State, especially as circumstances, times, and localities differ so widely, it is advisable that recourse be had to societies or boards such as We shall mention presently, or to some other mode of safeguarding the interests of the wage-earners; the State being appealed to, should circumstances require, for its sanction and protection………………….Many excellent results will follow from this; and, first of all, property will certainly become more equitably divided. For, the result of civil change and revolution has been to divide cities into two classes separated by a wide chasm. On the one side there is the party which holds power because it holds wealth; which has in its grasp the whole of labor and trade; which manipulates for its own benefit and its own purposes all the sources of supply, and which is not without influence even in the administration of the commonwealth. On the other side there is the needy and powerless multitude, sick and sore in spirit and ever ready for disturbance. If working people can be encouraged to look forward to obtaining a share in the land, the consequence will be that the gulf between vast wealth and sheer poverty will be bridged over, and the respective classes will be brought nearer to one another. A further consequence will result in the great abundance of the fruits of the earth. Men always work harder and more readily when they work on that which belongs to them; nay, they learn to love the very soil that yields in response to the labor of their hands, not only food to eat, but an abundance of good things for themselves and those that are dear to them. That such a spirit of willing labor would add to the produce of the earth and to the wealth of the community is self evident. And a third advantage would spring from this: men would cling to the country in which they were born, for no one would exchange his country for a foreign land if his own afforded him the means of living a decent and happy life. These three important benefits, however, can be reckoned on only provided that a man’s means be not drained and exhausted by excessive taxation. The right to possess private property is derived from nature, not from man; and the State has the right to control its use in the interests of the public good alone, but by no means to absorb it altogether. The State would therefore be unjust and cruel if under the name of taxation it were to deprive the private owner of more than is fair.”

    Other than the language, it could be the cry for employment justice from any rights organisation of today.

    Every best wish in your efforts to influence the board on this matter.

    H H
    Arthur

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