Queen`s party hit by cheap labour row ?

Last Updated: Wednesday, June 6, 2012 - 18:50

London: As Britain returned to work after four days of partying, the David Cameron government faced accusations of exploiting cheap labour and not using unpaid jobseekers as stewards during Sunday`s pageant on River Thames.

Amidst the feel-good atmosphere generated by the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, it was revealed that a personnel company contracted to provide stewards made the unpaid jobseekers sleep under the London Bridge over night before taking up positions during the pageant.

John Prescott, senior Labour leader and former deputy prime minister, accused the Cameron government of "exploiting cheap labour" and presiding over the development of labour camps.

Prescott has written to Home secretary Theresa May after becoming "deeply concerned" by revelations in The Guardian about the treatment of up to 30 jobseekers and another 50 people on apprentice wages who were taken to London by coach from Bristol, Bath and Plymouth on Saturday before the pageant on Sunday as part of the government`s work programme.

Downing Street today said using unpaid jobseekers during the pageant was an "isolated incident".

Two of the jobseekers said they had to camp under the bridge overnight, 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 company, Close Protection UK (CPUK), issued "sincere apologies" for what it called the "London bridge incident", but insisted that the poor conditions reported had been exaggerated.

In the letter to May, Prescott said the situation raised "very serious questions" about the "suitability of using private security contractors to do frontline policing instead of trained police officers" and that the company had shown a "blatant disregard for the care of its workers".

He told BBC: "It`s not only unacceptable, it`s a breach of the responsibility of the company under the security kind of agreements in the industry to have some proper regard for their employees.

"Not only was it under the bridge, but they were then sent to a camp which they described as `swampy and wet` after this event, almost becoming a development of labour camps. Is this going to be the circumstances for the Olympic sites?"

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, June 6, 2012 - 18:50

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