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G4S staff hit out over Olympics security 'shambles'

By Gerry Holt
BBC News

image captionG4S had been contracted to supply about 10,000 members of staff for the London Games

Security company G4S has been under fire since it emerged last week that it could not deliver enough guards for the London Olympics. Some of those who had signed up to work for the firm during the Games contacted the BBC in response to the criticism.

Last Wednesday, it emerged that the armed forces were on standby to provide an extra 3,500 troops to help with security at the London Games, amid fears that private contractor G4S would not be able to provide enough trained staff in time.

Since then, government ministers have made emergency statements on the issue and the company's chief executive has appeared before MPs to say he regrets the firm taking on the Olympic security contract - an appearance during which he agreed the company's performance had been a "humiliating shambles".

G4S has said some staff failed to turn up for work but prospective employees have accused the company of not providing them with enough information to do so.

Some told the BBC they had completed training but had yet to be told where or when they would be needed to work. Others said a lack of communication on accommodation and transport meant they could not make their shifts.

'No uniform or passes'

Geoff Munn, from Orpington, said he had yet to find out whether he would be working at the Olympics.

"I've been given the run around. I have contacted G4S on many occasions, only to be passed from one person to the next. No one had any idea what was going on and couldn't even tell me if I was still on the books," he said.

"I'm reticent now to work for G4S even if they do sort themselves out. I'm going to be looking into my rights and investigating whether they are in breach of contract for not honouring my employment."

Jennie Kesall, from Manchester, was due to start working for G4S next week but said she was still waiting for her uniform and paperwork.

"On 15 June I was offered a job in Glasgow to work in one of the venues there if I was interested, and I replied saying that I was," she said.

"Since then I have not heard anything. Also, if I have got the job am I supposed to be going to Glasgow next Monday to start? I have no uniform, passes, contract or confirmation. I have tried contacting them asking for information but I have heard nothing."

Benjamin West, from Colchester, said he received a call at midday on Monday asking why he had not turned up for a shift as a guard.

He said a lack of communication on accommodation and transport meant there had been no way he could get to work for 06:30 BST.

"Whenever I tried to contact G4S I could only get through to a call centre - there was no-one from the scheduling department, or accommodation apartment - and no direct contact with G4S themselves. It was very frustrating," he said.

'No idea what is going on'

John McGann, from Newcastle, cancelled other work and a summer holiday so that he could work for G4S only to be told recently that there was not enough time to train him. He initially applied and was interviewed in January.

"I made sure I was available at the drop of a hat but clearly I will be spending the summer doing nothing," he said.

media captionNeil Haggan applied to work for G4S Olympic secuirty

Marc Walton, from Huddersfield, said he was appalled at how G4S had treated him after he applied for a job with the firm. He said that he had two rounds of training and a uniform fitting but had heard nothing since.

"In 2010 I worked at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. The training was good, they held venue familiarisation training and constantly updated me on what stage I was at. The experience with G4S could not have been more different."

Jamie, from Devon, applied for a position with G4S to earn some extra money during his summer break from university, but has not been given any indication of when he can start. He even travelled 80 miles to Weymouth at the company's request to be fitted for a uniform.

"Throughout the process, there has been a lot of waiting around for information," he said.

'Frankly unacceptable'

Staff have also taken to the company's page on Facebook, posting comments about their experiences in the build up to the Games.

media captionG4S trainees complain about Olympic security jobs plan

And more than 100 people have joined a group named Open letter of complaint to G4S over Olympic security.

In a letter posted on the page, which the group's creators said they planned to send to G4S, the treatment of staff was described as "unprofessional and frankly unacceptable".

It said G4S should apologise to staff and offer compensation in some cases.

A spokesman for G4S said it could not comment on individual cases.

"The large increase in numbers of staff requested by Locog - up from an original 2,000 in December 2010 to more than five times this number, six months ago - has been extremely challenging, and we have encountered some delays in progressing applicants through the final stages," the spokesman said.

"We have been devoting more resources and working flat out to process these as swiftly as possible, and we are now in the position where we have over 4,000 people deployed now at 100 venues, and more than 9,000 going through the final stages of training, vetting and accreditation.

"We are working around the clock to put matters straight and considerable progress has been made in the past few days."

He said the company was providing food and uniforms, and covering transport costs, for Olympics employees. For those further away, accommodation and transport were being provided, he said.

More on this story

  • London 2012: G4S's Nick Buckles regrets taking contract

  • London 2012: G4S's Nick Buckles regrets taking contract

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