As the Royal Wedding had done before it, the subsequent event clean-up and more importantly who paid for it, has been subject to press attention. The ceremony, and the trimmings that came with it, were funded by the bride and groom’s parents. Conversely, the cleaning costs and security were funded by the council’s budget, and therefore by the taxpayer.
The great majority of the cleaning work was done by Westminster City Council’s cleaning contractor. The Telegraph stated that official predictions estimated that the additional costs of cleaning Central London’s streets before and after the wedding could reach up to £40,000. To enable them to do this task, the contractor had to set an extra 100 cleaning staff to work; over the proceedings a total of 130 workers picked up approximately 140 tonnes of litter from London’s streets.
The cleaning of the subways, which was done by criminals convicted of minor offences, did not directly cost the taxpayer.
The additional costs to the taxpayer for the wedding clean-up are not without note, but what about the cleaners undertaking the work?
The cleaners’ hard work to prepare London’s streets for the Royal Wedding and to clean up afterwards, was praised in the press. Guardian Journalist Jill Insley joined the cleaners on the day, spending the morning working with them. She acknowledged their hard work in her article, stating; ‘I will never again ignore those who are working so hard to keep my environment clean’.
Unfortunately, recent reports have shown that those who clean up after royalty do not necessarily receive royal benefits.
The cleaning staff at Buckingham Palace for example, are paid £6.45 per hour; above the minimum wage of £5.93 per hour but below the ‘Living Wage’ estimated for London. The ‘Living Wage’, which is a minimum hourly wage that will enable an individual to provide for their family, was estimated to be £7.85 per hour for 2011. This means, that although the contracted cleaners worked tiring, additional hours for a global, high-profile event, they do not even earn enough money to support their families. With the streets of London spotless as two billion sets of eyes were on it, it is unfair that the cleaner’s are not getting all of the financial recognition they deserve, for doing such an important job.
Mark Banks, the waste and receycling manager at Westminster City Council, regarded the procedure as “a little practice run for the Olympics for us.” If the Olympics are predicted to be an even bigger event than this, with larger cleaning operation then Westminster City Council’s cleaning contractors are to expect a busy few years. With the attention on the streets of London, and how the streets are prepared before and cleaned after, hopefully the Olympic clean-up will get the cleaners the recognition they deserve; seeing a positive effect in their pay packets as much as their public profiles.
For more information on event clean up, visit: http://www.newlifecleaning.com/
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