Driven 100 miles from home, told to sleep under a bridge and get changed in public at 5.30am, then work a 14 hour shift for no pay. That’s what was happening to one group of jobseekers while the privileged royals and their cronies enjoyed a cruise down the river during the bank holiday weekend.
Sarah Wrack, Youth Fight for Jobs (press and campaigns officer)
The Guardian reported that 30 unemployed people and another 50 on measly apprenticeship wages were bussed in from Bristol to London to work at the Jubilee river pageant for security firm Close Protection UK, which has the contract to run security at the Olympics as well as the Jubilee.
The firm claims the work was not compulsory because nobody would lose their benefits. But all participants were told that if they didn’t do it for free this time, they would have no chance of being paid to do similar work during the Olympics this summer. And what’s worse, they were all promised paid work until they got on the bus!
Close Protection UK would like us to understand their plight – apparently they have spent £220 on training for each person taking part and another £100 on uniform. That’s very ‘generous’, but what does it have to do with their not paying a day’s wage for a day’s work?
The scheme is part of the Con-Dems’ Work Programme – supposedly all about getting people back to work but increasingly obviously just about using the unemployed to help big business increase their profits without having to pay anything out in wages.
A better way to ‘get people back to work’ would be investing in a programme of public works to create millions of socially useful jobs.
Ian Pattison, Youth Fight for Jobs spokesperson said: “Many of the participants were told they would be paid, but upon arrival they were informed that the weekend’s work was a test for ‘paid’ jobs at the Olympics.
“This only goes to show that big business is ringing its hands with the prospect of repeating this super-exploitation over the rest of the summer at the Olympics.
“Youth Fight for Jobs has been at the forefront of protesting against Workfare, organising ‘name and shame’ and pickets of the shops of Workfare participants.
“These protests have forced one of the Workfare schemes, Work Experience, to in effect be scrapped. On Sunday 10th June, we will hold our national meeting, at ULU in London from 10:30am to 4pm to discuss how we can force the entire Workfare scheme be scrapped, and demand that the money currently being wasted on the profits of big business be used to instead create jobs, education, and public services”.