Jobless Worked Unpaid At Diamond Jubilee, Slept Under London Bridge

diamond jubilee workers unpaidThe long-term unemployed represent an immense untapped resource in the U.S. But the U.K. really knows how to tap that resource: Bus them to London to work unpaid at the Queen's Diamond Jubilee; tell them to sleep under London Bridge the night before; make them change into their uniforms in public; force them to work a 14-hour shift in pouring rain; deprive them of bathroom access for 24 hours; and then dump them at a swampy, pitch-black campsite to sleep it all off.

After The Guardian broke the story that a contractor for the event, Close Protection UK, brought as many as 80 job seekers to work the jubilee in miserable conditions and without fair compensation, there was an outcry. The former deputy prime minister, Lord Prescott, even wrote to the home secretary, reports The Guardian, saying that he was "deeply concerned," and that the situation should be investigated and Close Protection UK's upcoming Olympics contract reviewed.

The unemployed were part of the government's Work Programme, and were bused to the capital from various cities to help out during the $12 million pound ($18 million) river pageant that honored Queen Elizabeth's 60 years as monarch, reports The Guardian. Fifty people were given apprentice wages (about $4.30 an hour), and as many as another 30 weren't paid at all.

Close Protection UK won a "stewarding" contract for the three days of jubilee events, and nothing says profit like not paying your contract workers. The same company has a similar contract for London's upcoming Olympics, and a spokesman told The Guardian that the jubilee was a kind of try-out.

Two workers who spoke with The Guardian said that they were promised beforehand that they would be paid, but when they arrived they were informed that this wasn't true, and that if they didn't do the unpaid labor this time, they would be passed over for well-compensated work at the Summer Olympics. Neither worker wanted to be identified, citing their fear of losing this later opportunity at paid work.

The woman worker who was interviewed by the newspaper described camping out under London Bridge, where it was "raining and freezing," and of being woken up at 5.30 a.m. and forced to dress in public in the "freezing cold and rain."

"It was the worst experience I've ever had," the male steward told The Guardian. "I've had many a job, and many a bad job, but this one was the worst."

At first, Close Protection UK defended the arrangement, saying that it was an all-volunteer operation but that its workers were given significant training and equipment which they were allowed to keep. The security training licenses were 220 pounds per participant, the company said, and the boots and combat trousers tallied up to over 100 pounds. The charity Tomorrow's People, which coordinated the whole arrangement, said unpaid work was a valuable experience for job seekers, which made them more employable.

But once reports of the affair circulated, Close Protection UK backtracked and offering up its "sincere apologies" for the "London Bridge incident."

Perhaps nothing can quite make you question the institution of the monarchy, and the hereditary wealth and status it represents, like standing in a plastic, see-through poncho in the rain, watching a world-record-setting 1,000-vessel, seven-mile long flotilla sail down the Thames -- including a barge worth 1 million pounds -- and knowing you're not getting paid a cent.

While the inclement weather meant the pageant had to scrap the planned flyover of nine Royal Navy helicopters and a Fairey Swordfish biplane, it did not mean that Close Protection UK had to scrap the whole idea of sleeping on concrete under London Bridge. After all, the long-term unemployed are a resilient bunch.




Don't Miss: Companies Hiring Now



More From AOL Jobs


Queen's Diamond Jubilee River Pageant

Claire Gordon

Staff Writer

Claire Gordon has contributed to Slate's DoubleX, the Huffington Post, and the book Prisons: Current Controversies. While an undergraduate at Yale University and a research fellow at Yale graduate school, she spoke on panels at Yale and Cornell, and reported from Cairo, Tokyo, and Berlin.

Follow Claire on Twitter. Email Claire at claire.gordon@teamaol.com. Add Claire to your Google+ circles.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

51 Comments

Filter by:
RouteUS66Busload

The queen has a job opening, can they all accept that one $24 to $27,000 a year maid job working together and spilt the pay check and sleep under the bridge still?

January 30 2014 at 5:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Michael K-n

Probably, it’s a good place to stay during London Olympics.

Back to a story, “volunteers”-turned-“work-for-a-dole” slaves is an Australian reality of which jobs-for-mates if any workplaces existed factually, make no news at all.

Michael Kerjman

June 07 2012 at 11:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ExpatZ

That's funny.
I live in London and there is no place under London bridge to sleep.
It is a 30 foot drop to the river and the tide runs 27 feet twice a day.

Sounds like a BS story to me.

June 06 2012 at 6:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Leonard Thomas

If you try to sleep anywhere in Denver, Colorado, you'll be cited and incarcerated for "urban camping."

Cool, uh. I love Colorado, don't you?

June 05 2012 at 8:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
happy day!

Now this isnt a surprise to me, look at the history of these people , they starved the irish and pushed them off the land they were slaves to. It's not a bit unsual to believe this would happen no matter if it was a company or not, you can't treat people like this no matter where you are living. The queen should be treated in this manner , see if she likes it!

June 05 2012 at 8:18 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to happy day!'s comment
DJ

How those new meds working out? need some dosage adjustment me thinks...

June 06 2012 at 3:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dereck

What else could you expect from a crazy bunch of "Pretenders" who were "Decommissioned" around the same time as Myanmar, and Bankrupted by the World Fortune. rupert murdoch and the U.S. Government are the only thing propping those wannabe's up.

(Left-click to Read)
Definition: Pretenders
http://www.bing.com/Dictionary/searchq=define+pretender&qpvt=Definition+Pretender&FORM=DTPDIA

June 05 2012 at 8:15 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Patrick

These people aren't slaves. They weren't "forced" to do anything. This was an employment
contract that they could walk away from at any time. ANOTHER hyped up piece of tripe for
Claire Gordon..

June 05 2012 at 7:56 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Patrick's comment
madlyfem

They were told they would be paid. They were not told they would be paid the way children are paid. They were not told if they work for free, they would absolutely get to work for the Olympics, only that if they did not work for free they would not be considered. I think that is slavery.

June 05 2012 at 8:16 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
guacamolem

I couldn't agree more. That is, of course, until Close Protection UK's spokesperson first defended the actions then apologised for the "incident." If anyone should be out of work it should be that spokesperson. Judging by this article they had it made. Only two people came forward, they prefered to remain anonymous because they still wanted a job from this company, & c'mon on, you've got to admit, these accusations got a little outlandish. It was easy peasy. All they had to do was pull out the "They're just anti-monarchist just trying to ruin the day by poking the media bear who's always hungry even for a smear of scandal." defense. When more & more people came forward all they had to say was, "Rupert Murdoch paid them to say those things & hack poor orphans' & infirmed elderly veterans' cell phones." & the public still would be iffy. And finally when undisputable undeniable documentation surfaced & all looked lost... all Close Protection had to say was, "WE LOVE BRITAIN & WE LOVE THE QUEEN! WILL & KATE, YOU ROCK!! HUZZAH HUZZAH!! TO HARRY WE SALUTE & PIPPA YOUR BUTT IS CUTE!!! HUZZAH!!! HUZZAH!!! UK!!!! UK!!!! UK!!!! UK!!!! HUH HUH HUH HUH HUUUUUUUUUuuuuuuuuuuuh!!!! After that no one would have been able to touch them. But they chose to go the other two directions so...

June 05 2012 at 9:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
msharvie

OMG, $18 million! How much benefit did the low income or jobless people get out of that.........Zilch!

June 05 2012 at 7:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
alfredschrader

Now I understand the reason for making the Queen flesh eating lamprey pie. "Oh, ha ha ha ha, off with their heads" . And they don't get to celebrate the Fourth of July. What a rip-off...Al-

June 05 2012 at 7:44 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
danshirk88

greedy,greedy,greedy,greedy....greeeeedy!!!! sing it to the tune of money,money,money,money.....monnnnney!!! right??

June 05 2012 at 7:40 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Search Jobs

In Partnership With
Keywords:
Location:

Search Articles

Top Companies Hiring

April 13 - April 20

Looking for work? See what companies added new openings this week.