Festival Jobs and subcontracting

littlewoman

Longterm Registered User
As the job advert for festivals this season have already started I thought I should explain a few things about how festival security works.
At small local festivals you will probably only find one company that does the whole festival. At the bigger festivals there will be any number of big companies who will have some of their own staff and many contracted staff. Some of the subcontractors will have some of their own staff and some subcontracted to other companies. There are often up to 5 layers of sub-contracting.

To give Glastonbury as an example there are around 5000 security staff on-site (this is a rough estimate). Whilst it varies from year to year a typical format is that Gainsborough do the carparks, GES do perimeter and office areas, AP Security do most of the internal area and bars and Specialised do back stage. So just because you have years of experience at pit work and are the best thing since sliced bread does not mean you are going to be working the pit and be close to all the bands, if you're with GES you're probably on a gate a mile away from any music, because that is what GES do. Likewise if you're with AP then you could be on a campsite patrol or internal road junction you can't just wander anywhere you want.

There are going to be many adverts from companies saying that they are doing the security at Glastonbury, Leeds, Reading etc. unless it is one of the big names above (or Showsec or G4S for some other festivals), then its likely to be a subcontractor. AP and GES each have over 1000 people on site, the subby company might have 5 people working for one of these bigger companies and those 5 will not be working together under the subby's supervision, they will be mixed in with everyone else under the main company's supervision wearing the main companies uniform. You could even be working for Bloggs Security Bristol and your supervision could be from Smiths Security Swindon. So don't get any idea that just because a company says they do all these big festivals that there is a Wow factor, they must be a big/important/professional company, everyone and their dog is there.

I should perhaps point out though that all the companies generally work well together both the subby's and the main companies. I've seen one big company quickly jump in to help when they see someone with another big company near by needs help.

One important thing is that there are usually strict rules about poaching between companies. You can't get in with a small subby of a subby and then expect to get a job with the main company the next year. The usual is that you will have to have been away from that festival for a year before you can change companies.

I'll post more general advice about working at festivals in a few weeks time. In the meantime if anyone has any questions, pm me and I'll try and cover any questions asked when I write something more detailed later.
 
It`s also worth mentioning the amount of cut throat and blatant ripping off that is going on in the Event Security circles at present. I have first hand experience with a company that has been well and truly mugged off to the tune of £20k resulting in frontline staff not been paid etc. The companies doing the ripping off are large and well known and I won`t be mentioning them for obvious reasons. My only advice for anyone thinking of working events this year is to choose wisely and only through your contacts with a trusted company. On the other side of the coin I worked with a company through a friend and fellow CPW member and received high wages for a decent job, not standing on a gate! - Paid on time and within a great team. There is good work out there, just do some legwork/research beforehand!
 
I'd like to have a chat with you both about this at some stage next week if possible, if you can PM me your numbers and a good time to call I'll give you a buzz if that's ok?
 
It`s also worth mentioning the amount of cut throat and blatant ripping off that is going on in the Event Security circles at present. I have first hand experience with a company that has been well and truly mugged off to the tune of £20k resulting in frontline staff not been paid etc. The companies doing the ripping off are large and well known and I won`t be mentioning them for obvious reasons. My only advice for anyone thinking of working events this year is to choose wisely and only through your contacts with a trusted company. On the other side of the coin I worked with a company through a friend and fellow CPW member and received high wages for a decent job, not standing on a gate! - Paid on time and within a great team. There is good work out there, just do some legwork/research beforehand!

Good point and something I was going to post in an advice thread later on was that if you're working for a company you're not too sure about (anyone you haven't worked for before and then some) make up your own timesheet and get the supervisors to sign it as you come and go from shift. That way if you don't get paid what you should, you do at least have proof of hours worked. Then either yourself or your subby can use that to get what they are owed.
 
Some companies I have seen at festivals are shocking and wouldn't trust them to walk my dog never mind man a gate. I remember glasto a few years back, I have never seen so many jumped up little toe rags in my life, Tls which didn't have a clue what day it was, few security personal that couldn't grasp the English language the list goes on. The best thing I saw was guys working without a sia, but when asked they where working as a Marshall utter rubbish.

To be fair I think some of the big companies need to look at what they are doing, subbing out to these little companies that pay there staff peanuts and wonder why there staff have fallen asleep on their post. Things need to change fast on the festival side of things and can't wait to see some of the rates this year that are about. I have been lucky up to yet within the security industry, but hate seeing people I no ripped off who are very good operators
 
Some companies I have seen at festivals are shocking and wouldn't trust them to walk my dog never mind man a gate. I remember glasto a few years back, I have never seen so many jumped up little toe rags in my life, Tls which didn't have a clue what day it was, few security personal that couldn't grasp the English language the list goes on. The best thing I saw was guys working without a sia, but when asked they where working as a Marshall utter rubbish.

To be fair I think some of the big companies need to look at what they are doing, subbing out to these little companies that pay there staff peanuts and wonder why there staff have fallen asleep on their post. Things need to change fast on the festival side of things and can't wait to see some of the rates this year that are about. I have been lucky up to yet within the security industry, but hate seeing people I no ripped off who are very good operators
Well there are going to be plenty of positions that are just for stewards and if the festival organiser will only pay a steward wage for a position, that's what they are going to get.

The problem with staff in general is that festivals are short term work that rarely fits in with full-time jobs, so there is a big staff turnover from one year to the next. With a lot of new staff it is impossible to know how they are going to behave until they get there. What tends to make the difference is how quickly they sack people if they don't work well and if they get paid for work they've done or get kicked off site with no pay due to "Breach of Contract". In some ways its good for the big companies to use subbies as some of those subbys may have a regular team that work smaller local events, the problem is that other subbys are using staff they've only just acquired, but the reliable subbys get called back, the others don't.

The other problem with events is that you will always get people who want to "work" it because they want to see the event and they don't do their job properly because that's not what they're there for. Other's can't cope with camping and/or bad weather. If you get too many of these you can't sack them all as you'd be left without people to staff positions.
 
In some ways its good for the big companies to use subbies as some of those subbys may have a regular team that work smaller local events, the problem is that other subbys are using staff they've only just acquired, but the reliable subbys get called back, the others don't.

Couldn't agree more. There is clearly a conflict of interest when the guys that are supplying the staff are also the ones conducting the sia training.

One other thing that cheesed me off was the amount of hours that you don't get paid for. When I did Glastonbury, we were the last gate to get dropped off. That also meant that we were also the last ones to get relieved. Briefing then a 45 min trip to the gate (10 people crammed into a 4x4), and you're relieved whenever they get there. We waited over 2 hours on one occasion.
 
Couldn't agree more. There is clearly a conflict of interest when the guys that are supplying the staff are also the ones conducting the sia training.

One other thing that cheesed me off was the amount of hours that you don't get paid for. When I did Glastonbury, we were the last gate to get dropped off. That also meant that we were also the last ones to get relieved. Briefing then a 45 min trip to the gate (10 people crammed into a 4x4), and you're relieved whenever they get there. We waited over 2 hours on one occasion.
Well some extra time is all part of the job, but if it goes over an hour then you should get overtime pay. If this was last year then I know what company it is and I did get paid for the one extra hour I did. Just make sure they record it on the time sheet when you check in.
Glastonbury is a nightmare for deployments because of the sheer number of people involved and the difficulty in getting around site due to traffic jams, roads being closed due to rain etc. But there can also issues with people not turning up for their shift or being late which means they have to find someone else to cover a position.
 
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