Bricks without straw
I found this report deeply worrying. At the risk of seeming like Uncle Jimmy, who does this all the time, I'm going to reprint some of it here.
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.....
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.....
The woman 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."
A 30-year-old steward told the Guardian that the conditions under the bridge were "cold and wet and we were told to get our head down [to sleep]". He said that it was impossible to pitch a tent because of the concrete floor.
The woman said they were woken at 5.30am and supplied with boots, combat trousers 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 [it], so some of us, including me, were getting undressed in public in the freezing cold and rain." The men are understood to have changed under the bridge.
The female steward said that after the royal pageant, the group travelled by tube to a campsite in Theydon Bois, Essex, where some had to pitch their tents in the dark.
She said: "London was supposed to be a nice experience, but they left us in the rain. They couldn't give a crap … No one is supposed to be treated like that, [working] for free. I don't want to be treated where I have to sleep under a bridge and wait for food." The male steward said: "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."
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.
Whether the Olympics work will also turn out to be unpaid when the workers turn up remains to be seen.
Here is a link giving more information about Molly Prince, whose company Close Protection UK was supposedly training the latter-day coolies.
Here is a link to the Tomorrow's People charity, which organised the placements and clearly failed to interest itself in the conditions under which "tomorrow's people" would be expected to work. As the Guardian report put it, "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." Well, yes, I'm sure if you don't have to be paid you're more employable than the other folk who expect actual money. And being made to sleep under a bridge and get changed in public is all valuable training for when the same company does the Olympics.
Stiil, it's what we in Britain do best: sucking up to the unemployable rich while crapping on the unemployed poor.
I feel a few emails of protest coming on. Feel free to join me.