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Glastonbury responds to criticism of zero hours contracts for clean up team

By | Published on Friday 7 July 2017

Glastonbury Festival

The Glastonbury Festival has responded to criticism of its use of zero hours style contracts for workers involved in the clean up operation after this year’s event.

The criticism began with a piece by The Independent, which said that workers had travelled from all over Europe to join the 700 strong clean up team, expecting two weeks of work. However, around 600 were apparently told that their services were no longer required after two days. A video shows workers complaining that they would not be fed over the weekend before being able to find more work.

Later this week, a spokesperson for Glastonbury headliner Jeremy Corbyn, who spoke about workers’ rights in his speech at the festival and committed to ban zero hours contracts in Labour’s manifesto, said: “Jeremy and the Labour party have taken a very strong stand against the use of zero hours contracts, and the exploitation of migrant and other workers, and the spread of all manner of insecure agency working, and we would take that view wherever it happened. That goes not just for zero hour contracts but other forms of exploitation – bogus self-employment, fake agency working and so on”.

In response to all this chatter, Glastonbury has now issued a statement, saying: “The length of the clean-up varies considerably from year-to-year, based largely upon the weather conditions before, during and after the festival. This is something the litter pickers – many of whom return year after year – are made aware of in their worker agreements (which assure them of a minimum of eight hours’ work)”.

It continued: “This year was an unusually dry one for Glastonbury. That, coupled with a fantastic effort from festival-goers in taking their belongings home, meant that the bulk of the litter picking work was completed after two and a half days (in 2016, a very wet year, the equivalent period was around ten days)”.

Glastonbury also disputed the claims that the laid-off workers were not fed, saying: “All but a core crew of litter pickers were advised that there was no further work available after Friday (30 Jun). Those who weren’t able to leave the site over the weekend were given further meals, plus assistance with travel to nearby towns with public transport links”.

Next year, of course, is a fallow year for Glastonbury, giving the farmland on which the event takes place a year to recover from five years of festivals.