Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Security firm used unpaid jobseekers on 'Work Programme' to police Queens Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

The Home Secretary, Theresa May, has been asked to investigate a complaint made by Lord Prescott, the former Labour government deputy leader, against a Wigan based security firm after it used unpaid unemployed jobseekeers on the governments' 'Work Programme' scheme, to police the Queens Diamond Jubilee celebrations and forced them to sleep rough, under London Bridge, the night before the pageant.

On Tuesday, the Guardian reported that up to 30 unpaid jobseekers on the Work Programme had been asked to sleep rough under London Bridge after they had been brought by coach to London by 'Close Protection UK'(CPUK), to work unpaid as stewards at the Diamond Jubilee celebrations on Sunday. The coach had brought the unemployed youngsters from Bristol, Bath and Plymouth, to engage in 'work experience'. The company also brought 50 'apprentices' to act as stewards for the event who were paid £2.80 an hour. According to CPUK, the standard rate for this kind of security work is £10 an hour.

Two jobseekers who took part in the event - "who did not want to identified in case they lost their benefits" - told the Guardian that the had slept under London Bridge overnight and had no access to toilets for 24 hours and had changed into security clothing - 'rain ponchos' and 'combat trousers' - in public. After working a 14 hour shift in the rain, they had then been taken to a 'swampy campsite' outside London on the banks of the Thames. One woman told the newspaper that she had worked a 16 hour shift after no sleep, and did not have access to a usable toilet for 24 hours. In the morning she had been given a paper bag containing a sandwich and a bag of crisps and told not to eat it, because it was her lunch. Other jobseekers were also told that any work they might get at the Olympics, was dependent on them working unpaid at the pageant.

Although this form of modern-day slavery was introduced by the last Labour government, by Work & Pensions Secretary, James Purnell, who told the unemployed "work or lose your benefits", Lord Prescott - who is seeking to be elected as a police and crime commissioner for Humberside - now believes that "unpaid work is exploitation". In his letter to the Home Secretary, Lord Prescott, who believes CPUK are "providing policing on the cheap" said:

"What we are talking about about now is the development of forced labour camps for unemployed unpaid workers. All governments have attempted to say, if we offer you a job you have to take it, but not unpaid work. Unpaid work is exploitation however you see it, unless there's a long term. He also added that the company had shown a "blatant disregard for the care of its workers."

Although CPUK have taken much of the media flak for this fiasco, they are not the prime provider. The compulsory work under the Work Programme, was sub-contracted to them by 'Tomorrow's People', a registered charity who also got paid, ("which helps people find and keep a job") and which is headed, by Baroness Stedman Scott, a Tory peer. Scott and Tomorrow's People, have already been reprimanded by the Charity Commission for breaching rules on political activities because of their links with the Tory Party.

Molly Prince, the Director of CPUK has had nine different companies since 2006 all of them in the same business, 'Event Safety Solutions'. All of the companies have been dissolved and some struck off by the regulator, for failing to submit accounts. Given the companies economic background and incompetence, it has just been awarded another contract to handle fire safety and security at the forthcoming Olympics.

In a statement issued to the press, Molly Prince confirmed that some stewards had been unpaid and apologised that some had been forced to sleep under London Bridge because they had been dumped by the coach driver. She denied that staff had been without toilet facilities and forced to work unpaid for a 14 hour shift and that they, had been exploited.

Although some of the jobseekers have stated that they were only informed just before they got on the coach that they wouldn't be paid, Molly Prince said the jobseekers didn't want to be paid, because it would affect their jobseeker benefits and that they wanted the work experience.

Two jags Prescott is calling on the government to review the companies Olympics contract. He told the Independent:

"How did this company, given its economic background get a contract to handle fire safety and security? Is this the Olympic model?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Now information has to come to light that CPUK MD Mollie Prince has a conviction for perverting the course of justice and received a 12 month suspended prison sentence for it .......she was arrested on suspicion of GBH stemming from a family dispute which resulted in a man in a coma .

She wrote a very interesting chapter entitled " Landlord to Trainer of Bodyguards one of these confessions / memoirs of a bouncer / football hooligan / gangster type books is still freely available more details on the Political Scrapbook site

Frankly through experience I’m not surprised at all …everything about that firm had Bouncer Agency written all over it . We’d a Crown Court Case when the two local Security Agencies started a war with each other , at one time bouncers would have an arrangement to be paid by the Landlord / Landlady …yes shock horror ..not ….it could be cash in hand …then these bouncers would be intimidated and ” encouraged ” to join these agencies ,

in fact there was more trouble in the town centre caused by bouncers than the usual scrotes and hoodlums

…many anecodotal accounts of bouncers being told to start a kick off in a venue to get a contract ….I’m afraid I’m inclined to believe a lot of them ……..and these agencies on a very superficial level appear to be respectable with town centre offices …often supplying retail guards to shops etc .

No wonder Beecroft and the Tories want red tape and regulation removed ….a Tory Peer on the BBC in trying to justify the Jubilee Stewards scandal said we must grow the industry …even if it meant turning a blind eye to Employment Law and H&S .

this is / was a very dubious firm Parking Solutions Security Parking (UK) Ltd operated out of Shrewsbury ….started up by a black guy …ex boxer ……………..there was a lot of compliants at a important Central Lancashire train station junction ………

…………AFAIK no one was assaulted by this guy but a lot of people felt that they were very intimidated ….commuters seemingly went to their MP and from a Google Search there was questions tabled in the House ……..despite their business address they worked from the Midlands ….Tamworth ..

.I think ……..they got a contract with Virgin Trains and did Car Park duties when VT were running replacement buses when the main lines were closed .

…….none of the staff were vetted , had SIA licences , there was no equipment , no staff got holiday pay when they qualified for it …one guard claimed that the propreitar couldn’t afford it as he’d his wedding to pay for , they broke staff in gently by mere 14 hr shifts ….but some staff had to do 22 – 24 hrs ones at Carlisle …

….there was no facilities for staff at the stations whatsoever ….interviews were held in station buffets … member of staff had his postal wages by cheque stolen …….it was patently obvious he hadn’t drawn on the cheque but was basically told to Foxtrot Oscar .

….the firm expected their guards to ride shot gun on these rail replacement buses as bouncers with no restraint or first aid training ….However Virgin Trains are indirectly to blame for hiring these cowboy outfits too

Staff have very little due recourse in law ….they can complain to ACAS but the only remedy to obtain holiday pay which is due under the EU Working Time Directive is take out an Industrial Tribunal out against these firms

…..a lot of staff are frightened to rock the boat …as the word could get round and they’d be unofficially black listed in the Security Industry …and never work in it again . It is really is a cut throat industry , paranoia is rife and there is a culture of fear .

The Health and Safety Executive are a toothless paper tiger if complaints are brought against them …judging by the amount of pathetic handwringing and wriggling out of things .

However aggressive Car Park Firms is basically the business model ….licences are given out wily nily to these semi literate sub criminal types .

However this is by no means the lower end of the Security Industry Market whatsoever