Glasgow & West Scotland

Celtic hit out at James Kelly MSP over living wage call

James Kelly MSP and Celtic Football Club Image copyright James Kelly and SNS
Image caption Rutherglen Labour MSP James Kelly wants Celtic to become a living wage employer

An MSP who called on Celtic to become an accredited living wage employer has been accused by the club of using the issue for his own political purposes.

Labour's Rutherglen MSP, James Kelly, who is a Celtic fan, said it was "time Celtic remembered its origins" and paid all staff the £8.25 an hour rate.

However, the club said that he had "no knowledge of the workings of Celtic".

Last year, Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell said the club was being used over the living wage campaign.

Mr Kelly's comments came one day ahead of Celtic's AGM, where fans will table a resolution calling on the club to become an accredited living wage employer.

The rate, set by an independent foundation to make wages match the cost of living, has been adopted by about 380 firms across Scotland.

'Fair wage'

It is nearly a fifth higher than the national minimum wage, set by the UK government, of £6.70 an hour and over £1 more than the new minimum wage premium for over 25s of £7.20 an hour that will come into force in April.

Last year, Hearts became the first football club in Scotland to implement the living wage.

Mr Kelly said: "The Celtic board has the opportunity to make a commitment to hundreds of the club's staff.

"Celtic has a proud history of combating poverty. But in 2015, they are refusing a guaranteed fair wage to a great number of staff, many of whom are on casual contracts.

"It's time Celtic remembered its origins and became an accredited living wage employer: tomorrow presents the board with this opportunity which I hope they grasp."

'Better off'

At its AGM last year, Celtic said it was prepared to enter discussions with its permanent workforce on the issue but not with others including part-time and external workers.

Now a club spokesman has accused Mr Kelly of using the issue for his own agenda.

"Mr Kelly has no knowledge of the workings of Celtic but yet again seems to be involved in this issue for his own political purposes," the club spokesman said.

"We have done all that we said we would do at last year's AGM. 98% 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. It is totally misleading to suggest that this is anything other than a very positive step, overwhelmingly welcomed and supported by affected staff."

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