Wimbledon has been accused of sacking temporary staff for “bizarre” reasons after overestimating the number needed.
It is believed that several people working on a temporary basis in hospitality and housekeeping abruptly lost their jobs for reasons such as going to the toilet without asking.
At least three temporary workers are said to have lost their jobs for sitting on the hill with a drink after their shift had ended.
A 19-year-old gap year student working as part of the housekeeping team said they had at first been “chuffed” to get their shifts as they were relatively well paid.
“But we were working on Wednesday and during our lunch break my [friend] sat on the hill and had some strawberries,” they said. “Next thing, he gets an email saying that he won’t be getting any more shifts. Now we’re literally all bricking it to do anything on our breaks or even sit on the hill after we finish working in case we get told there won’t be any more shifts for us. The whole thing is bizarre.”
Another temporary worker called the situation a “shambles”, saying: “I think it’s reflective on the management here. They’re firing people left, right and centre. They’re basically overstaffed and they said there’s not enough fans here – not what they expected – so they’re having to fire people.
“People are being fired because they’re overstaffed and they’re using the fact that staff are watching tennis and drinking as an excuse.”
An email sent by a contractor to its staff confirmed that the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC) was looking to reduce its staffing numbers. “As you may have noticed, visitor numbers are lower than expected, for this reason the AELTC have asked that we look at reducing our day staff numbers,” it said.
Attendance numbers at Wimbledon have been slightly lower than expected. Although the capacity is 42,000 a day, the total may be higher than this when ticket resales are included. On Wednesday and Thursday there were about 38,500 fans in attendance. The highest ever attendance was 46,826, on a day in 2009.
An AELTC spokesperson said that contractors had not been asked to cut staff.
“We value all of the staff who help us to deliver the Championships, they are crucial to staging this world-class event.
“We meet annually with each of our major contractors to agree the terms and conditions of employment, which are shared with all potential employees. We are delighted that many of our staff choose to return to work at Wimbledon year after year and help us to put on an incredible event.”