This sounds like a joke, but apparently isn’t.
A group of long-term unemployed jobseekers were bussed into London to work as unpaid stewards during the diamond jubilee celebrations and told to sleep under London Bridge before working on the river pageant.
Are you kidding me? Not just no pay but told to sleep outside under a bridge?
Well happy jubilee to you too.
Up to 30 jobseekers and another 50 people on apprentice wages were taken to London by coach from Bristol, Bath and Plymouth as part of the government’s Work Programme.
Two jobseekers, who did not want to be identified in case they lost their benefits, said they had to camp under London Bridge the night before the pageant. They told the Guardian they had to change into security gear in public, had no access to toilets for 24 hours, and were taken to a swampy campsite outside London after working a 14-hour shift in the pouring rain on the banks of the Thames on Sunday.
Happy Big Society.
Close Protection UK confirmed that it was using up to 30 unpaid staff and 50 apprentices, who were paid £2.80 an hour, for the three-day event in London. A spokesman said the unpaid work was a trial for paid roles at the Olympics, which it had also won a contract to staff. Unpaid staff were expected to work two days out of the three-day holiday.
The firm said it had spent considerable resources on training and equipment that stewards could keep and that the experience was voluntary and did not affect jobseekers keeping their benefits.
[One of the workers] said that people were picked up at Bristol at 11pm on Saturday and arrived in London at 3am on Sunday. “We all got off the coach and we were stranded on the side of the road for 20 minutes until they came back and told us all to follow them,” she said. “We followed them under London Bridge and that’s where they told us to camp out for the night … It was raining and freezing.”
I suppose they should be grateful they weren’t made to sleep actually in the Thames.
Both stewards said they were originally told they would be paid. But when they got to the coach on Saturday night, they said, they were told that the work would be unpaid and that if they did not accept it they would not be considered for well-paid work at the Olympics.
Molly Prince, managing director of Close Protection UK, said in a statement: “We take the welfare of our staff and apprentices very seriously indeed.”
No you don’t.
“The staff travelling to the jubilee are completing their training and being assessed on the job for NVQ Level 2 in spectator safety after having completed all the knowledge requirements in the classroom and some previous work experience. It is essential that they are assessed in a live work environment in order to complete their chosen qualifications.”
Hey you know what? Workers should be paid for training. That’s one of the expenses for the employer. Period.
“The nature of festival and event work is such that we often travel sleeping on coaches through the night with an early morning pre-event start – it is the nature of the business … It’s hard work and not for the faint-hearted.”
And the pay is zero, so only the truly dedicated and strong need apply!
One wonders how much time Molly Prince spends sleeping in a swamp and working a 14 hour shift for bupkis.
The charity Tomorrow’s People, which set up the placements at Close Protection under the work programme, said it would review the situation, but stressed that unpaid work was valuable and made people more employable…
“Tomorrow’s People believes strongly in the value of work experience in helping people to build the skills, confidence and CV they need to get and keep a job and we have an exemplary record going back nearly 30 years for our work with the long-term unemployed.”
Oh shut up. Work experience is one thing, dumping people out to sleep under London Bridge at 3 a.m. is another.