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Olympic employment opportunities and working conditions

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"The Olympics is one of the largest construction projects in Europe. This has potentially opened up the possibility for people living in the host London boroughs to be employed or trained to work on a large-scale construction project. However, such a possibility has been somewhat thwarted not only by the nature of the construction industry, including its overwhelmingly white male character, but also by the recent Conservative government’s cuts which have hit these boroughs in a particularly serious way."

In July 2011 the European Institute for Construction Labour Research published Olympic Sites: A celebration of Olympic values? Its editor, Jan Cremers says; "In this special issue of CLRNews we have tried to document the construction involved for different Olympic Games, the social and employment issues and problems raised and the longer-lasting effects."

In addition to critical reviews of practices at each previous Games, from Barcelona in 1992 to Beijing in 2008, it includes a critique of London 2012, from which the opening quote above is taken.

It concludes:

"As apparent from this account, the strategy for training and employment for the London 2012 Olympic Games has been based on targets, which have tended to fluctuate over the years. Although, there is a very large workforce involved in building the Olympics, there remains a lack of clarity as to who is or has benefited from training and employment opportunities. LOCOG (2008) argues that ‘legacy’ means different things to different people, and may include employment opportunities. But, for the people of the East End of London, the Olympics could have provided a far greater opportunity for many to experience work on a large-scale construction project, to be trained and to gain employment. Nevertheless there have been significant training and employment opportunities available on the site and what is questionable is perhaps rather whether it was too ambitious to think that the Olympics could solve the problem of social deprivation in the East End of London. In the context of the construction industry, the project has had certain exemplary aspects, including its health and safety record and working conditions. In other respects, though, including in its relative lack of diversity (with the exception of those whose jobs have been brokered) and the operation of a blacklist, it has continued to reflect the discrimination evident in the industry as a whole."

Download: Olympic Sites: A celebration of Olympic values?


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