This week Glastonbury Festival was criticised for allegedly employing European workers on zero hour contracts. The opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn, spoke at the festival and pledged to abolish the contracts. Two questions were not asked. Why are people being employed to pick up litter and why is it necessary to import them?
In the United Kingdom, it is a criminal offence to knowingly drop items of rubbish or deposit garbage and trash inappropriately or without consent. However, this only applies to public land. Glastonbury is on private property and the owner decided that, instead of asking the festival goers to dispose of their own litter, it was more appropriate to pay someone else and cover their costs in the £238 ticket price and compulsory £5 booking fee. Many of the other tasks during the festival were covered by volunteers, allowing more of the proceeds to go to charities.
Currently employers can recruit anyone from the European Union but, assuming that the rules on payment of minimum wage and tax are complied with, there is no advantage to the employer in giving preference to overseas workers for basic, unskilled, tasks. There are plenty of unemployed people living close to Glastonbury who could have collected the rubbish but instead sat at home, collecting their dole. Perhaps that is a bigger controversy than zero hours.