Cleaning staff flown in for Olympic Games

25th of July 2012
Cleaning staff flown in for Olympic Games

The Olympic Games begins in London this week, and it's not just athletes from around the world descending on the English capital. A small army of cleaners - almost all students - have flown in from far-flung countries to play their part in the Games and earn some money at the same time.

While athletes stay in the new Olympic Village these cleaners will live in 'Camp Cleanevent', a compound with about 100 temporary cabins, each sleeping 10 people in bunk beds. Many are from Hungary and Spain, with others from across Europe and beyond.

The cleaners' compound hit the news in the UK last week when a national newspaper reported some of the arrivals had described it as a prison camp or a slum, with one shower for every 75 people.But while the temporary cabins might have been unexpected, the spartan accommodation did not seem a major surprise for those heading off to work at the Olympic Park.

"They told me we were going to live 10 people per room so I didn't expect any big room. I think it's OK to live (here) for a month," said a 19-year-old business studies student from Spain.

"If it's wet it gets really, really dirty. It's uncomfortable to have a shower because you can get dirty when you come back to your room."

For most though, the conditions are offset by the pay. The cleaners are getting over 10 euros an hour - which is above the UK minimum wage - plus three meals a day and free transport to venues.

The rent, however, is just over 700 euros a month, roughly the same cost of renting a one-room apartment.

When it gave permission for the compound Newham Council, the local authority, acknowledged there had been concern at the quality of the accommodation, but said it met all relevant standards.

Craig Lovett, chief executive of Spotless International Services, the firm employing the cleaners which has now worked on eight Olympics, was clearly unhappy about national newspaper stories.

"You assemble a workforce of 3,600 people and sometimes some people are not going to be happy. It's not a prison, people can leave any time they want to," he told Reuters.

"There's enough in the press about people who can't put a workforce together, we certainly know how to put a workforce together," he added in a dig at the security firm G4S, which has failed to recruit enough guards for the Olympic venues.


Our Partners

  • ISSA Interclean
  • EFCI
  • EU-nited