Exploitation behind the pageantry

Submitted by Matthew on 6 June, 2012 - 7:30

Unemployed people were bussed into London and made to sleep under a bridge before working as unpaid stewards at the Jubilee pageant.

The benefits claimants were brought into London from Bath, Bristol, and Plymouth to work jobs administered by Close Protection UK. The company said the unpaid work was a “trial” for potential paid jobs at the Olympics. It confirmed using 30 unpaid workers (as well as 50 apprentices paid just £2.80 an hour) at the pageant.

Workers had no access to toilet facilities, and were made to change into their uniforms in public. They slept on concrete under London Bridge after arriving in London in the early hours of the morning of Sunday 3 June, and then were accommodated at an outdoor campsite in Essex after working 14-hour shifts.

Some stewards were told they would be paid, only to later discover that they were expected to work for free. Close Protection UK is also accused of sacking paid stewards days before the event in order to replace them with unpaid workers.

One worker told the Guardian: “It was the worst experience I've ever had. I've had many a job, and many a bad job, but this one was the worst.”

• More on the anti-“workfare” campaign here

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