On Saturday a small but lively group of protesters took to the streets of Hindley, Wigan to raise awareness concerning Close Protection UK, the company at the centre of the working conditions of unpaid stewards during the Jubilee celebrations in London.
A number of young unemployed people were bussed to London with the promise of a wage for the weekend. When they arrived they were told they would not be paid for the work and if they refused they would not be considered for work during the Olympics. The stewards were told they had to sleep under a bridge, made to change into their uniform in the open air and were without toilet facilities for over 24 hours.
Close Protection UK and company director Molly Prince came under scrutiny after a number of stewards on work experience complained about the working conditions and the lies that they had been told regarding the stewarding being paid work .
Further investigation unearthed Prince’s murky business and criminal history. Charged with Perverting the course of justice in 1994 and having 5 companies ‘struck off’ by Companies House using powers under the Companies Act for failing to submit accounts for any of the 5 companies.
CPUK has landed the £850,000 fire marshall contract for the Olympics despite sources claiming that the Olympic body tasked with awarding contracts, LOCOG would have to be convinced that CPUK had a balance of at least £700,000. When the company last accounts were submitted there was a balance of £1317 .
It is perhaps unsurprising there seems to be unhand dealings happening considering that the boss of the charity, Tomorrow’s People, that refers jobseekers to CPUK is Conservative Peer Baroness Scott. Both Scott and Tomorrow’s People have been investigated by the Charity Commission for breaching rules regarding political activities, with their links to the Conservative Party. Perhaps this explains somewhat why the Government is so keen to brush this scandal under the carpet – “This is a one off-This is an isolated incident. The company has apologised”.
The protest attracted the attention of residents, shoppers and passing vehicles. Virtually everyone had read of the Close Protection UK scandal but most did not realise the HQ was in their town. Although the premises were closed it was felt it was important to keep CPUK in the public consciousness.
Considering so many people were asking to become involved in the campaign another protest has been organised for later this week, this time during office hours to target Close Protection UK .
Trade Unionists, local Councillors and residents have all pledged their support.
Protest outside Close Protection UK HQ
Wednesday 13th June, 5pm, 15 King Street, Hindley, Wigan, WN2 3AW