Unpaid unemployed stewards exploited for the royal pageant
A group of long-term unemployed jobseekers were hired to work as stewards during jubilee celebrations without pay or proper accommodation facilities.
Up to 30 jobseekers and 50 people on apprentice wages were driven to London by coach from Bristol, Bath and Plymouth with an assurance that it would be advantageous of their chances at securing paid steward jobs at the London Olympics.
The firm, Close Protection UK (CPUK), which had won the stewarding contract for the Diamond Jubilee, allegedly told some of the workers that they would be paid but later retracted their statement at the coach stating that the work would be unpaid and if they did not accept it they would not be considered for well-paid work at the Olympics.
According to the stewards, they were given no proper accommodation and had to camp under London Bridge the night before the river pageant. They claim that they had no access to toilets for 24 hours nor any private area where they could change into the security gear. Following their 14-hour shift in the pouring rain, they were then taken to a swampy campsite outside London.
One of the workers said she was given a see-through plastic poncho and a high visibility jacket as part of the uniform for protection against the rain.
She also told the newspaper that the workers were told to camp under the London Bridge in the cold, wet night at around three in the morning and were shortly woken up at around 5.30 a.m. to be given combat trousers, boots and polo shirts.
She said: “They had told the ladies we were getting ready in a minibus around the corner and I went to the minibus and they had failed to open it so it was locked. I waited around to find someone to unlock it, and all of the other girls were coming down trying to get ready and no one was bothering to come down to unlock, so some of us, including me, were getting undressed in public in the freezing rain cold and rain.”
The CPUK confirmed that it was using up to 30 unpaid staff and 50 apprentices for the three-day event in London but deny exploiting the workers. A spokesman said the unpaid work was a trial for paid roles at the Olympics.
The firm has since apologised to those involved but the ministers are being urged to look into the exploitation of unpaid workers.