Some of the 80 unemployed people bused to London to work as security during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee had to sleep in the rain under London Bridge and never got paid, the charity which arranged the jobs has admitted.
That same charity, Tomorrow’s People, has a contract with Close Protection UK, the security firm that will provide security during the Summer Olympics.
“We are urgently reviewing our involvement with Close Protection,” charity director of development services Abi Levitt said in a statement Wednesday.
“We are very concerned at Close Protection UK’s lack of care for our clients and lack of attention to their safety and well-being.”
The Guardian first reported Monday that the long-term unemployed men and women were brought to London from Plymouth, Bristol and Bath but left stranded without shelter or toilets before the Thames River pageant.
A spokeswoman for Close Protection admitted it had used 30 unpaid people and 50 apprentices, who were paid $4.48 an hour, as stewards during the Jubilee events.
The unpaid work, the spokeswoman, was a trial for the Olympics, for which Close Protection has a security contract.
“It was badly handled and for that we’ve extensively apologized. We’re not in the business of exploiting free labour,” said Close Protection’s Molly Prince.
She promised “better logistics planning will be in place for the Olympics.”
A spokeswoman for Prime Minister David Cameron said Tuesday: “This is a one-off. This is an isolated incident. The company has apologized.”
Two of those bused overnight to London for the Jubilee told the Guardian they had to sleep in the rain and cold under London Bridge and change into their uniforms in the open.
“There was a timing error which meant the coaches transporting clients from the South West arrived in central London two hours early,” at 3 a.m., Levitt said. The bus company left the men and women there where they slept for a few hours until someone from Close Protection arrived, she said.
She explained that the unemployed people over age 25 went unpaid rather than sign off of their unemployment benefits and then back on after three days. Those under 25 were paid as apprentices, Levitt said.
One unpaid steward told New Statesman, however, that she did expect to be paid and had been promised $720 and further well-paying work at the Olympics.
Despite claims by Close Protection, not all of the Tomorrow’s People clients bused to London had their security training cards, New Statesman said.
The charity said Close Protection did provide the unemployed men and women with work boots, clothing, return transport home, meals and a campsite to sleep at after the first night.