Sunday, August 19, 2012

Olympic “Slums”: Housing for Migrant Workers in London

Late indeed…a post-Olympic post of a pre-Olympic article by Lisa Wade, professor of sociology at Occidental College. Overlooked in drafts but still a good article and worth reading, let it be a caution against euphoria and a reminder of the price of glory, rarely paid just by the winners.

Many people around the world are eagerly awaiting the start of the Olympics next week.  A lucky few will compete and a small group of others will be there, in person, to watch.  Athletes and spectators, however, are just two of the groups that the games mobilize.  The Daily Mail reports on the large numbers of people hired to be temporary janitors, groundskeepers, maids, and other types of cleaners.  Many of these workers are migrants who have come to London hoping to work for a few weeks and return to their families having earned a little more than they otherwise could.

The story, sent in by Dolores R., focuses on the living conditions of these workers.  Most are paying rent to live in temporary trailers.  Packed together like sardines, the compound has been described as a “slum.”

Complaints include:
  • Crowded living spaces.  ”Any accommodation where more than two adults have to share a room is considered ‘overcrowded’ under housing laws.”
  • Insufficient toilet and shower facilities that were “filthy” from overuse.
  • Leaking trailers that the workers are told to live with or fix themselves; stagnant ground water around some of the trailers has forced them to put together make-shift stepping stones.
  • Women are being placed in trailers with men they don’t know; at least two women have quit when they were told they had to stay with male strangers.
The Daily Mail says that the employees have signed gag orders that prevent them from talking to the press and that family and friends are barred from the camp for “security reasons."

Via The Sociologist.
Read the rest of Olympic “Slums”: Housing for Migrant Workers in London. Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College. You can follow her on Twitter and FacebookView original at