England’s Glastonbury festival is currently mired in controversy for accusations of worker exploitation in its aftermath. The Independent reports that the event’s organizers “hired hundreds of workers from across Europe on zero hours contracts and then fired them after just two days.”
The iconic festival has been held since the 1970s on founder Michael Eavis’ extensive farm property outside of Pilton, Somerset. Held in the final weekend of June, Glastonbury is one of the world’s largest music festivals, drawing well over 100,000 concert-goers annually. Because of the event’s soaring attendance numbers, its required workforce for debris cleanup is, historically, extensive.
Due to a number of factors, including “good weather” and “the use of charity workers and on-site litter crews during the festival,” the concert’s aftermath left a substantially smaller amount of waste. Because of the decreased need for cleanup employees, as many as 600 workers were laid off, reportedly.
Though Glastonbury’s implementation of zero hours contracts exempts organizers from providing laborers with a minimum for working hours, contractors were allegedly misled to believe they would be hired for a week or more. The Independent states the following regarding the impact that the swiftly terminated contracts had on employees:
“Organisers were accused of taking advantage of some 700 people who were signed up as litter pickers expecting two weeks of paid employment after the acts and festival-goers had gone home, only to leave some three quarters stranded and out of pocket in the Somerset countryside.”
Workers reportedly traveled to the English festival grounds from countries across the EU, including Spain, Poland, and Lartvia, a number of which were left stranded and disenfranchised due to plans made under the expectation of two weeks’ work and pay. Simon Kadlcak, a contractor from the Czech Republic, told The Independent, “There are people without work still sleeping in tents here because they have nowhere to go, they were expecting two weeks of work.”
The outlet, summarizing Kadlcak’s comments, further noted that “some people had booked return flights and were being forced to stay in the UK until they could go home.” Many others have reportedly left the festival grounds and “are attempting to find work elsewhere in order to recoup their losses from travel, food and accommodation” while stranded in a foreign country.
Glastonbury’s treatment of workers has met with increased criticism because of Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s high profile appearance at the festival. Standing alongside Michael Eavis on Glastonbury’s main stage, Corbyn delivered a message encouraging attendees to not “accept low wages and insecurity as just part of life” – a stark contrast to the event’s apparent philosophy as an employer.
A spokesperson for Corbyn told The Independent, “Labour is committed to ending zero hour contracts, which was included in our manifesto, and the next Labour government will end zero hour contracts.”
Read the full story on The Independent.
H/T: EDM Tunes
Featured image by David Hedges via SWNS.