It has been reported that Glastonbury Festival hired hundreds of workers from across Europe on zero hours contracts and then fired them after just two days.
The festival organisers were accused of taking advantage of 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 three quarters stranded and out in the Somerset countryside.
Up to 600 workers are understood to have now been laid off. Workers had travelled to Somerset from countries including Czech Republic, Spain, Poland and Latvia after being handed zero hours contracts to help with the large-scale clean-up operation on Worthy Farm.
All this is revealed after Jeremy Corbyn’s high-profile appearance on the festival’s Pyramid Stage with organiser Michael Eavis, in which the Labour leader received rapturous applause for saying young people need not “accept low wages and insecurity as just part of life”.
The Labour leader asked whether it is right that “European nationals living in this country” face uncertainty about their future.
“I say they all must stay, and they all must be part of our world, and be part of our community,” he said. “Because what festivals, what this festival is about, is about coming together. This festival was envisaged as being for music yes, but also for the environment, and for peace.”
A spokesperson for Jeremy Corbyn said: “Labour is committed to ending zero hour contracts, which was included in our manifesto, and the next Labour government will end zero hour contracts.”
According to one of the workers, Simon Kadlcak, from Czech Republic, he had arrived at Worthy Farm on Monday 26 June and started working the next day. He had heard about the opportunity from friends who also signed up to work via an online form.
“We found out quite soon that there was not as much garbage as usual, so there was less work,” he said. “Rumours were being spread about what would happen and there was no proper information.”
“There are people without work still sleeping in tents here because they have nowhere to go, they were expecting two weeks of work,” he said. “One person tried to find us other jobs in the area and get food for us for the weekend.
“The organisers have to have known that there was not enough work for that amount of people. No one spoke to us before, there were these rumours and people are quite nervous about it. No one let us know until yesterday afternoon, they just put up a list of the 100 people who were able to keep working.”
He added that some people had booked return flights and were being forced to stay in the UK until they could go home. Many of the workers have left the farm and are attempting to find work elsewhere in order to recoup their losses from travel, food and accommodation.
Two small protests have been held over two days outside an office on site.
“Everyone is on a zero hours contract. We have no commitment to feed these people, they’re on paid jobs, their job is over.
“I don’t think it is the responsibility of Glastonbury or anyone else to feed these people. They are responsible adults who can feed themselves… no one is stopping them from leaving the farm to get food.” said a supervisor to a worker.