Use of umemployed Diamond Jubilee workers was “exploitation” - Prescott

Unemployed stewards were used in the Jubilee celebrations
Unemployed stewards were used in the Jubilee celebrations
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FORMER Deputy Prime Minister Lord Prescott has accused the government of exploiting cheap labour.

It came after unpaid workers were bussed into London for the event and left stranded in the middle of the night.

The former deputy prime minister said there had been a “complete disregard” for the conditions of the stewards.

They were forced to sleep in the cold under London Bridge in the early hours of Sunday morning.

He also warned the incident could set the tone for the treatment of workers during the Olympics.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: “It raises many questions on the provision of unpaid labour in these kind of positions, not only on the Jubilee event, but also particularly for the coming Olympic ones.”

He called on Home Secretary Theresa May to look at the conditions of employment by companies like Close Protection UK.

The company provided stewards during the weekend celebrations and are bidding for contracts during the Olympics.

The unpaid labourers were brought in as part of the Government’s Work Programme.

Under the scheme, unemployed jobseekers must take up placements in order to continue receiving benefits.

“We’re using unpaid labour in the kinds of positions that are causing great concern and may well be establishing the practice for the coming Olympics, which this company is involved in as well,” Lord Prescott said.

“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 site?”

A Downing Street spokeswoman described the incident as an isolated “one-off” and said that Close Protection had apologised.

The Number 10 spokeswoman said: “This is an isolated incident. The company itself has apologised.”