CELTIC has defended itself against claims that the club has “misled” a supporters group over moves  to offer staff a minimum of the Living Wage.

The football club insisted it had not reneged on a promise made last year to consult with 100 full-time employees paid less than the Living Wage rate of £7.85 per hour following a campaign by the Celtic Trust.

The row centres over the withdrawal of a discretionary bonus system for staff receiving the Living Wage rate.

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At the club's annual general meeting last year Celtic announced they were prepared to offer permanent staff the Living Wage and would consult with staff.

 Those affected numbered around 180 and were primarily involved in Celtic's retail section. 

But the Parkhead club said it would not sign up to the Living Wage scheme as it would mean "handing over decision making on salaries to another agency".

The Celtic Trust, whose campaign was supported by a 10,000 signature petition before last year’s AGM, said the club resolved that from July 1 they would pay all employees the Scottish Living Wage.

 

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But the fans group pointed out that the employees would no longer be eligible to participate in the bonus scheme previously open to them.

The Trust said the club told them that the workers are "significantly better off" with the new higher hourly rate than having to rely on a bonus that could not be guaranteed.

The supporters group said it was "penny pinching of the worst kind" and it appeared the club had been "trying desperately" to find ways to do the "absolute minimum".
However, Celtic said in a statement that it was "totally inaccurate" to say the club has "misled anyone in any way."


It added that following the consultation: "Our lowest permanent employees are now paid £7.85 per hour, equivalent to the Living Wage. 98 per cent of the colleagues with whom we consulted were in favour of the proposed pay rise and structure, because they would be significantly better off with the higher hourly rate, rather  than a discretionary bonus that could not be guaranteed."


“We have also met with the Poverty Alliance, who have welcomed the positive steps we have taken.  Celtic pays the Living Wage hourly rate of £7.85 or higher, to all permanent staff.   It is in fact totally misleading to suggest that this is anything other than a very positive step, overwhelmingly welcomed and supported by affected staff."

 


The Celtic Trust is supporting a new resolution they want to put to the club's annual general meeting on November 20, for the board to take "all necessary steps" to make Celtic an accredited Living Wage employer and to provide to shareholders a progress report on this within three months.


Celtic Trust said it was concerned that as the club is still not an accredited Living Wage employer they are under no obligation to ensure that these employees continue to be paid the Scottish Living Wage and so the "fight goes on".

The AGM resolution promoted by the Celtic Trust says: "Forced by pressure from the Trust and the support to agree a pay rate, which the club can well afford, a decision is then made to exclude this group of our lowest paid employees from a bonus scheme which is discretionary, and remains in place for higher paid members of staff.

"It appears, therefore, that since the AGM in November 2014 the club have spent time, not so much in consultation with affected staff, but rather in trying desperately to find ways to do the absolute minimum and even to claw back as much as possible from a group of our low paid workers.

"In addition because Celtic have resisted becoming an accredited Living Wage employer these workers have no assurance that their pay will rise in future, even by the very modest amounts, which the Living Wage would guarantee.

"The club claims that it has now fulfilled the commitment made by the chairman at the 2014 AGM, but this is not the settlement which over 1600 of the 1750 shareholders who voted at the AGM supported.

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"We therefore continue the fight to have Celtic Football Club remember to its origins and become an accredited Living Wage employer. We ask for your support for this resolution."

The Celtic Trust is now actively seeking shareholder support to endorse the resolution.

The moves came as new research showed that one in five Scots employees earns an amount below the 

One in five Scots employees earns an amount below the Living Wage threshold.
The Living Wage is calculated to cover the basic costs of living and is set to be boosted by 40p to £8.25.

Accredited Living Wage employers have to complete an accreditation licence and have it approved by the Living Wage Foundation.

This entitles approved firms to use the Living Wage Employer mark. They also get an accreditation plaque.
The rate, set by an independent foundation and adopted by 370 Scottish firms.


Celtic chairman Ian Bankier previously revealed that the move to increase the wage for permanent staff would cost the club £350,000.

The club was formally constituted at a meeting by Brother Walfrid on November 6, 1887, with the purpose of alleviating poverty in the east end of Glasgow by raising money for the charity he had instituted, the Poor Children's Dinner Table.

Walfrid's move to establish the club as a means of fund-raising was said to have been largely inspired by the example of Hibernian who were formed out of the immigrant Irish population a few years earlier in Edinburgh. This will be the third consecutive year that the fans group has called on Celtic to become an accredited Living Wage employer.

Hearts became the first Scottish club to implement Living Wage in October, last year.

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