Utility workers in gas, water and electricity are being threatened with a ban on leave during the three months during and around the Olympics and being forced to work 12-hour shifts during the actual games. All pretence of social priority in guaranteeing power or water to the elderly, schools or business is now being overridden with only one priority: keep the Olympic stadium and other sites working without interruption.
Local authority workers in the London boroughs directly affected – Tower Hamlets, Newham and Greenwich – are being told to work extended days, sleep in makeshift camp bed provision, all without recompense. Rail workers and bus crews have already achieved or are pursuing additional payments to meet the demand for longer hours and extended public transport provision. Health workers are facing a similar threat of holiday bans and heightening of security as London becomes a militarised zone during July-September.
The TUC fiddles with cosy agreements with the companies providing security, catering and site infrastructure – Compass, Amadeus and Sodexho – providing for US-style corporate union recruitment to try and recruit the thousands of short term workers, here today, gone tomorrow, while the Olympic organisers try to head off industrial disputes.
A whole industry has arisen offering advice on how to overcome the predicted massive disruption across London, when the road and rail infrastructure will groan under hundreds of thousands of additional daily journeys across the capital. It’s predicted there will no longer be one rush hour at each end of the day but five or six throughout the day.
Paying for the Olympics will cost every Londoner a council tax supplement until 2042 and it is still a secret how many millions of tickets have gone to company corporate sponsorship and brand promotion. ■