Security firm apologises for using unpaid jobseekers


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The Independent Online

The security firm at the centre of a row over claims that up to 30 jobseekers were bussed into London to work as unpaid stewards during the Diamond Jubilee celebrations was under growing pressure last night.

Close Protection UK (CPUK) last night issued "sincere apologies", but insisted it did not exploit workers. The firm's managing director Molly Price said: " There is no unpaid labour, except by individual choice, everyone in training is being paid apprenticeship rate.

"All staff were supplied with a hot breakfast, a packed lunch, a hot evening meal and dry heated accommodation."

Yesterday, the former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Prescott led calls for an investigation into the incident, in which the workers were reportedly left stranded in central London by the firm, after travelling there overnight.

The charity Tomorrow's People, which set up some of the placements, also spoke out on Twitter, saying: "We're urgently reviewing our involvement with CPUK. We're also very sorry to our clients that were involved."

But one woman from Bristol, who did not want to be named, said she was among 80 people – there were also 50 people on apprentice wages – "left stranded".

"We went under London Bridge and were told we would be camping there," she told i. She claimed they were told they would start work at 5am but by 3.30am they still had not been given somewhere other than the street to sleep. She said she was then made to change into her uniform in public before spending 14 hours on duty without access to toilet facilities.

Lord Prescott has now written to Home Secretary Theresa May asking her to investigate claims made against CPUK.

CPUK had bussed in the group from Bristol, Bath and Plymouth. Reports claimed the workers were brought in as part of the Government's Work Programme, where the unemployed must take up placements in order to continue receiving benefits.