Steve McGuire shares his experiences of trying to get a job with G4S at the 2012 Games
David Davies, PA Wire
In September 2011, I was given the opportunity to become a member of the G4S security staff at London 2012 through my college. As an A-level student, the chance to put that on my CV was presented as a once in a lifetime opportunity not to be missed. I immediately signed up for the training and booked an interview online.
We began the training in weekly three-hour sessions, and it was evident quickly that everyone in the group (including the tutors giving the training), shared my excitement over the prospect of spending the summer at the worlds biggest sporting event, while earning money and spending time in the capital.
In October, the interviews took place, and we were told that everyone was pretty much guaranteed a job, provided they attended an interview and they didn't have a criminal record. I was told that I would hear back within 90 days as to whether I was successful.
We continued the training with two really nice, laid-back tutors every Wednesday afternoon until our Christmas break began, and we were told that we had all passed our training and that we would have a one-day course in January on anti-terrorism, to be delivered by G4S employees.
More than 90 days after the interviews, people asked me if I'd heard from G4S. I told them that I hadn't.
More than 90 days after the interviews, members of my group at college began asking me if I'd heard from G4S, and I told them that I hadn't. We began sending emails and phone calls to the lecturer from our college who was also volunteering for work with G4S. He told us he had called several times having heard nothing from the company, only to be kept on hold for hours at a time, and he told us not to bother emailing G4S, as he was still awaiting replies to emails he'd sent to them weeks ago.
The anti-terrorism course was delivered eventually at a day's notice in late March 2012. I had to miss important lectures to attend it, but I was told the course was the last part of training until role-specific training, which would be given at the venues from April to June 2012, at test events that we would be asked to volunteer at.
The course was basically a day pondering common sense, the tutors from G4S quizzing us on whether we thought marijuana or alcohol might be allowed inside venues. It was very basic stuff, and we were told "any problems/suspicious behaviour, tell your line manager". It seemed we were not being trained to deal with problems, as you might expect from security staff. This contradicted what we were told in the training before Christmas about dealing with tricky customers, and how we were supposed to use initiative to solve problems.
It was around April that two people received contracts. Many of us, however, received emails, letters and phone calls repeatedly from all over the country requesting our bank details. I was asked for mine four times. I sent them four times. One of my friends was asked eight times for his bank details. This made many question the competence of the company. But the consensus among my group was to see how it plays out.
We then repeated a day of physical intervention training for some unknown reason. Many at this point decided that they were done, including some of my friends. They phoned G4S to cancel any further training, and found themselves on hold for hours, some even found that the company hung up on them. I decided to wait, as the promise of employment during the summer had meant that I had not applied for jobs locally, and so I really needed this job.
On 20 June I received a call from G4S, asking if I was available for a training day in a week's time. All previous training had been held at the college in my town, so I thought I was being asked to go there. I then got two emails, one saying I needed to go down to London in three days for the training, the other asking me to collect uniform from London in five days. The cost would have been in excess of £200 on the train.
I'd been searching the online forums for other students' experiences, and I found that G4S expected us to pay for this training and would only provide accommodation for 600 students in London.
With 10,000 volunteers becoming security staff, I couldn't see me getting accommodation and so I decided that I didn't want to take the risk.
My name is still on the rota, and the managers are adamant that I am going to turn up, despite being no longer employed by G4S.
I called G4S three times, again to no answer, cancelled my training and sent two emails to G4S telling them that I could no longer be employed at the Games, as I could not afford to get to London for all of my training.
I then received an invitation to an online survey. G4S told me that the survey was for scheduling purposes. The first question asked if I was still interested in employment. I answered "no", and told them the reasons for this.
I have continued to receive emails from various G4S employees and managers. They are still sending me details of when and where I can pick up my uniform and venue pass, as well a rota for work at Old Trafford in Manchester. Apparently I'm entitled to £1 per hour for every hour worked there. This is obviously nowhere near the £8.30 an hour promised. I have also received other employees payroll numbers and work schedules.
After doing everything within reason to alert the company that I am not interested in employment, they still send me emails regularly, and I spoke to a friend from college a few days ago, who began work at Old Trafford. According to her, my name is on the rota, and the managers are adamant that I am going to turn up at some point, despite her telling them that I am no longer employed by G4S.
I understand that there probably are individuals who haven't let G4S know that they are no longer able to fulfil the terms of employment, but there are many in that "up to 59%" absentees, that like myself are genuinely disappointed not to be at the Olympics, who stuck with G4S until the end.
MSN contacted G4S for a response to Steve's experiences. A spokesman said:
"While we aren't able comment on individual cases, we are sorry that potential employees have experienced difficulties through the recruitment process. What we can say is 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. 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."