Should We Boycott the i360?

Is it worth it?

With news breaking over the last day or so that the i360 has been advertising jobs at minimum wage, instead of the National Living Wage it promised to subscribe too, there have been calls for a boycott of the new attraction.

The road to the i360 has been a rocky one, with opinion very much divided over the 160 metre structure. Many Brighton locals are put off by the appearance of the i360, whilst others are more optimistic about the revenue and tourism that the cable car is promising to generate.

Brighton-i360-009

The i360 finally reached it’s full height last week

The i360 is claiming to offer up to 440 jobs which would be a huge increase to it’s predecessor the Brighton Wheel. However, with these jobs are being offered as paying below the promised salary the question has to be asked over whether the i360 is actually benefiting the city and it’s citizens.

 

CEO Eleanor Harris: photo by British Airways

An important selling point to many about the i360 was the promise to increase permanent jobs, but if these jobs are being underpaid then there certainly is an argument that Brighton has been conned into accepting the replacement for the wheel without being fully compensated. British Airways, the sponsors of the attraction, can outsource the low paid jobs such as hospitality in order to maintain their own individual reputation as a Living Wage employer. This to some could be considered cheating the city, however the CEO Eleanor Harris of the i360 responded to criticisms surrounding the wages of her soon to be employees this morning by taking to Twitter to defend herself:

“This is an unfair attack. We are paying all our staff the Living Wage. This includes young people who are recent school or college leaders. We are in the minority amongst hospitality businesses. There is no requirement for members of B&H campaign to force suppliers to comply”

With so much funding for the i360 coming from local government, it seems only fair that the i360 pays fair wages. The i360 received a reported
£30M from the Public Works Loan Board with promises that it would improve Brighton; but debate surrounding the wage structure of it’s local employees would suggest otherwise.  The i360 is undoubtedly going to generate tourism for the city, but it should justify it’s existence by paying the citizens first, and making money second.

The BA i360: Brighton's newest tourist attraction - Photo: Les Hatfield via Flickr

The BA i360: Brighton’s newest tourist attraction – Photo: Les Hatfield via Flickr

Employers who signed up to the National Living Wage scheme promised to pay their workers a minimum of £8.25, but a number of the jobs being advertised by the attraction are coming in at just over £7. That is not exactly what the attraction promised, and not what a lot of Brightonian’s expected.  Councillor Tom Bewick has stepped in and called for an increase in wages, promising to write to their CEO.

i360 tweet 3

Tom Bewick is calling for change

The i360 will continue to divide opinion in Brighton until it’s open later this summer. It may well succeed in generating tourism and thousands of pounds worth of revenue, and it may well benefit the city massively. It will undoubtedly be a success story, and it will one of the biggest tourist attractions of the summer – eclipsing the fact the wheel ever existed. However, despite all the success, if it fails to fairly and rightly remunerate it’s workers – local, Brighton citizens, due to outsourcing the low paid jobs then it has failed to do it’s duty to Brighton and failed to deliver on promises it made to justify its worth. It will have failed to live up the expectations that so many of us had for the infrastructure, and will have disappointed so many of the optimists that thought the i360 would truly benefit our city.

With that in mind, we will have to wait and see the i360s response before we decide whether it has been worth all the fuss.

 Feature Image:  Via Twitter.

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