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Lindsey comes to the Olympics

Olypmic site
Clearing the Olympic site at Stratford.
Photo: Workers

Construction workers in the Unite union in London have taken up the fight of the Lindsey oil refinery workers, and are calling for trade union control over the hiring of labour at the Olympic site in Stratford, east London. The London and South East Construction Branch also wants direct employment, correct terms and conditions, an end to bogus self-employment, and no blacklisting. The first step is a demonstration called for 6 May from 6.30am onwards at the main gate (see What’s On).

When London won the right to hold the 2012 Olympic Games and Newham became the host borough, local people were told it would create many jobs for the residents, especially for construction workers.

Now government figures reveal that 10,000 foreign workers living in Newham have been handed national insurance numbers and many are believed to be helping to build the venue for the 2012 Olympics. The numbers cover the six months up to the end of February and they are rising.

Work and Pension Department officials have confirmed that the claimed number of “local” workers at the Stratford site are in fact non-UK citizens with an address in Newham or the other four host boroughs. Their status with regard to nationality or how long they have lived in the borough does not come into the equation.

In truth, probably many of these residents have not been very long in the country, let alone the borough. The big contractors are massaging the figures by bringing labourers from all over Europe and India into the Olympic boroughs and putting them in hostels. Those labourers are then counted as local people.

Meanwhile, our indigenous community are not getting a look-in. There have been plenty of promises to make sure the Olympics leave a legacy for the future. What about ensuring that there is a skills legacy for the local community, for east London? British tax payers and lottery players are paying for jobs for foreign workers. The Olympic Delivery Authority is under pressure to balance its books and many believe it has targeted savings on labour costs. It is thought that migrant workers hired through agencies are typically paid £2 less per hour than their British counterparts.