Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Squalimpics "Showcase"

FROM the air it looks like a badly-arranged and over-crowded container yard. Inside it's a darned sight worse. But don't worry. The muddy campsite where cleaners are being accomodated ten to a room in the Olympic Park won't be visible to the public.

After all, these Olympics, with so many millions in profits and tax breaks for big companies, souvenirs from Far East sweatshops, beer by Heiniken, and fast food from McDonalds (don't get caught smuggling in real chips!), are supposed to "showcase Britain".

Having to call in the army at the last minute to look after security is all part of the show. Soldiers just back from Aghanistan and looking foward to a bit of leave are likely to find themselves kipping in a disused shopping centre in Wapping.

So you can't expect the civvies to fare much better. They're not expected to be seen, just to clean. But thanks to Katherine Faulkner writing in, of all places, the Tory Daily Mail, we learn


  • Cleaners at the Olympic Park are being housed ten to a room at a huge temporary compound.
  • The campsite in East London, hidden from public view, has 25 people sharing each toilet and 75 to each shower.
  • They sleep in portable cabins, some of which have been leaking in the rain.
Grim: Cleaners at the Olympic Park are being housed ten to a room at a huge temporary compound, pictured. The campsite in East London, hidden from public view, has 25 people sharing each toilet and 75 to each shower

Wet weather has left the site waterlogged, forcing people to hop from abandoned pallets to crates as stepping stones to get around the site.

Although the Olympics were supposed to bring jobs to East London, many of those coming to work are from abroad, leading some Mail readers more used to the anti-immigrant diet to express their satisfaction that conditions are bad in case these workers be tempted to stay.

In fact some workers took one look at the accomodation offered and turned right back. But others, though told there would be no work for them for a couple of weeks, were told they could stay in the park and pay the cleaning company £18 a day in ‘rent’ to sleep in the overcrowded metal cabins, which works out at more than £550 a month.

Katherine Faulkner says cleaners at the camp have signed gagging orders preventing them from talking to the Press and have been banned from having family and friends visit ‘for security reasons’. But one worker, from Hungary, said conditions were ‘very bad’ inside the camp but he had nowhere else to live. ‘It is like a slum inside,’ the 24-year-old said. 'The toilets are dirty and the space is very little.’

Another, also from Hungary, said: ‘When we saw the camp, we were shocked. When we came to England we thought accommodation would be much nicer. Some of the cabins have been leaking and we have been told to fix them ourselves."

Kathreen Faulkner notes that "plans for the accommodation were backed by London 2012 organiser Locog and waved through by the local council, Newham, even though environmental health officers said the toilet and shower facilities were ‘unlikely to be adequate’, while landscape architects said the sleeping arrangements were ‘cramped’."

"But councillors decided that because the camp would be only temporary, concerns about the housing and welfare of the workers were not ‘justifiable reasons for refusing planning permission’.

Any accommodation where more than two adults have to share a room is considered ‘overcrowded’ under housing laws. Health and safety guidelines state that employers should provide at least five toilets and five washbasins for every 100 people.

Craig Lovett, of Spotless International Services which runs the camp, said the number of toilets and showers per person exceeded requirements for temporary accommodation and that there were internet, medical and entertainment facilities on-site.

He added: ‘This is not a prison. Nobody is forced to stay there. Many of our staff have come from areas where there is extremely high unemployment and are very happy to be working in the Games.


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