Queen tried to breach wage laws

THE QUEEN ordered the withdrawal yesterday of an advertisement for a pensioner to work for 130 days a year without pay at Windsor Castle after The Independent pointed out that it was a clear breach of impending minimum wage laws.

In return for a tied cottage the pensioner was to perform routine "gatekeeping" duties, but was also to be responsible for security at an entrance regularly used by the Royal Family. After the decision to "reconsider the post", Neil Moore, a national official at the GMB general union, said: "Thankfully the national minimum wage leaves behind for ever the days of serfdom."

Management at Windsor Great Park set out the tasks of the successful applicant in an internal advertisement signed by the "Deputy Ranger". Applications were invited from staff who were about to retire or had recently done so.

The tasks were:

Check personnel arriving at the gate and insure they are security cleared before allowing entry. Work with castle police on matters of security.

On request attend the gate for arrivals and departures for members of the Royal Family, dignitaries and guests.

Communicate with management staff on matters relevant to the secure and efficient running of the Home Park.

Report and record all relevant incidents and occurrences concerning gate security and carry out standard paperwork.

Be vigilant and attentive at all times.

Maintain and keep tidy the area in the vicinity of the gate and the adjoining gatehouse.

The gatekeeper, who was to be responsible for the entrance to Home Park, was expected to be on duty when senior members of the Royal Family were in residence and ensure security at the Town Gate by "strict observance and application" of security regulations.

Mr Moore said the job offer flew in the face of agreements on wages and contradicted minimum wage legislation, which comes into force in a month's time. The law will stipulate a limit of pounds 3.60 an hour for adults and a maximum deduction from weekly wages of pounds 20 for a tied cottage.

"We are talking about royalty and security here," Mr Moore said. "The whole thing was outrageous and a slight on the old people of this country. They are trying to turn the clock back and make people into serfs."

A spokeswoman for the Crown Estate said management were grateful the matter had been brought to their attention and the post was now being "reconsidered". She added: "There is no question that the Crown Estate would do anything contrary to the law."