POMPEY have been criticised by a local councillor for employing young people to work at the club on an unpaid basis.
As reported in The News, the club has joined other employers in offering work placements to people claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance.
The scheme is called the Mandatory Work Activity, which means youngsters do the work as part of their benefits agreement. The youngsters carry out cleaning and basic maintenance work.
But councillor John Ferrett disagrees.
He said: ‘I accept what the trust have done as a community club but I think this detracts from what they have achieved as a community club which is using people free of charge.
‘They are exploiting employees by not paying the minimum wage or using people on a work programme or putting them on zero hours contracts.
‘It’s something that a club like Pompey should think very carefully about. It doesn’t sit easily with a community club.
‘If they are employing people to do these tasks they should be paying them.
‘We’ve seen enough at Fratton Park. There have been employees at Fratton Park who haven’t been paid over the last few years.
‘I would hope that we are making a fresh start in terms of the way that the club is going to conduct its business.’
But Mark Catlin, chief executive of Pompey, said: ‘It’s a government led initiative. It’s not something that the club has driven.
‘These are volunteers. As far as I’m concerned we haven’t forced anyone into doing anything. It’s their choice.’
And Mark added that feedback from the young volunteers has been extremely positive.
‘I have spoken to a lot of them and they love working here. They love having something to do. We are a community club now.
‘We aren’t in this to make any money. We are here to represent the city of Portsmouth. It’s upsetting if anyone has said anything detrimental.
‘It’s good on their CV. It’s not doing any of them any harm – they like doing it.’
Also read The News Comment: Volunteering at the club is positive, not negative