PROFITEERING FROM CHEAP LABOUR IN UK PRISONS
In order to obtain this information we are relying on
prisoners, their friends, and families, to let us know whats
happening in the British penal slave shops, to let us know which
companies are contracting the work, what its nature is, and
how much (or rather how little) prisoners are being paid. The very
fact that the secrecy surrounding prisoner exploitation can be broken,
and prison slavery be put on the agenda, will in itself have an
effect on the Home Offices ability to sell prisoners
labour Campaign Against Prison Slavery.
Spare a thought during this years Consumer Christmas Hellish-day
season for those who wont be pulling a cracker round the family
table. Contrary to popular belief slavery has NOT been abolished
in Britain. Behind high walls and locked doors it still flourishes.
People are being forced to toil in poor conditions, beyond the reach
of health and safety inspectors, denied even the most basic employment
and trade-union rights, and severely punished if they refuse to
work. In British prisons, there exists a readily exploitable labour
force, a Third World colony in Britains own backyard, cheap,
non-unionised, available, and literally compelled to work. The prison
population now stands at a record 78,000 and rising. Of those, 10,000
prisoners are put to work every day.
As Neo-Labour continues to push the prison system towards the kind
of public-private partnership it loves so much, its no surprise
that some well known companies have got in on this highly profitable
act. Despite all the corporate hogwash about Social Responsibility
and Ethical Trading Initiatives, Prison Enterprises,
the part of the prison system which cooks the books and sets up
the contracts is doing business directly, or indirectly, with ASDA,
Sainsburys and Tesco and Argos among many others in the usual
suspects style line-up. The likes of Wakenhut and Group 4 are now
running whole prisons, the productivity of whose work force
is a vital part of the profit margin.
Of course according to the government and the corporations, its
all about helping to rehabilitate prisoners and set them on the
straight and narrow. Curiously though, these companies are reluctant
to comment on the exact nature of their contracts. But according
to an inside source from the Scottish Prison Service (who run in
an identical manner to their counterparts in England & Wales
and have a turnover of £3 million a year) This is low-skilled
no braining work and is of no benefit to the rehabilitation
of the actual individual. I feel sorry for some of the prisoners
as they are offered false hope and are worked like dogs. A
survey conducted at Dovegate Prison (category B male prison owned
by Premier Custodial Services - UK trading name of Wakenhut
in August 2002 showed that the work undertaken consisted of: assembly
of TV aerials, packing of balloons, assembly of lawn aerators, cleaning
of aluminium moulded parts for machinery, packing of household textiles.
and the production of pallets. And for this life-enhancing drudgery,
wages were a maximum of a massive £26.00 a week.
According to the Campaign against Prison Slavery (CAPS),In
British prisons, there have been savage cuts in education budgets
over the past half decade, any pretence at rehabilitating prisoners
and empowering them with trade skills has been abandoned. If prisoners
refuse to work, or are not considered to be working hard enough,
they are punished - placed in solitary confinement, brutalised,
denied visits, having days added to their sentences. Private companies
are making enormous profits from prison labour, £52.9 Million
in 1999, and that figure is growing rapidly. They use it because
it is CHEAP - prisoners may be paid less than £5 for a weeks
work - and for prisoners there are no sickies, no holidays,
no union meetings, no transport problems, and if theres no
work they can simply be locked back in their cells. Prisoners are
treated as the bosses would like to treat all of us.
Prison slavery is a useful way for companies to outsource all those
labourintensive, tedious tasks and undermine the rights and
negotiating power of their own work force. Armitage Petcare is a
supplier to ASDA, Sainsburys and Tesco and uses Lowdham Grange
prison in Nottingham for basic packaging. Sainsburys used
prison labour to package plastic spoons in HMP Lewes. SchNEWS
contact (literally) on the inside told us its probably
best to wash the spoons before you use them. The Ecologist
magazine was using (a few years ago admittedly) Holloway womens
prison as a handy way of sticking leaflets in their mag - maybe
its no surprise that editor Zac Goldsmith is now advising
the Tories on greenwash.) Airsprung Beds ltd suppliers to
Argos have been using the Scottish Prison Service to manufacture
divan beds. The employees of Dysons, the vacuum-cleaner manufacturer,
were sacked when Dysons decided to use cheap non-unionised labour
in Malaysia, but how many Dysons workers knew that for some
time the company had been using cheap, non-unionised labour at Full
This is of course just a tiny sample; unsurprisingly the latter-day
slave-masters are keen to keep their involvement secret - from their
own employees, and from the wider public, aware that the issue could
be a PR partypooper. Hiding behind commercial confidentiality,
most of the contracts are kept secret or farmed out to middle-men.
Most of the major companies named above subscribe to some form of
corporate responsibility bollocks in fact Sainsburys
are founder members of the Ethical Trading Initiative, a voluntary
code of conduct which strives towards ensuring the absence
of forced labour. Given that the alternative to this sweatshop labour
is 23 hours a day locked up SchNEWS reckons theyre not striving
all that hard.
In terms of pimping out prison labour to greedy companies the Home
Office are relying on being able to assure not only its cheapness
and reliability, but also ensure anonymity. Few of the companies
exploiting forced prison labour would be comfortable with their
employees and customers knowing about it. A primary aim of CAPS
is to secure reliable and up to date information on these slave
companies, and to expose them and target them. If youve got
anything you reckon they ought to know then contact them (or us!)
or PO Box 74 Brighton BN1 4ZQ or check out their website at www.againstprisonslavery.org
CRAP ARREST OF THE WEEK
For not being a policeman...
During an illegal squat eviction in Brighton this week, Sussex
police arrested one squatter for possession of a Metropolitan police
badge. Despite his heroically scruffy appearance, he was charged
under section 90 of the Police Act 1996 Impersonating a Police
Officer namely Any person who, not being a member of
a police force or special constable, has in his possession any article
of police uniform shall, unless he proves that he obtained possession
of that article lawfully and has possession of it for a lawful purpose
will be guilty of an offence. Clearly fearing that Brightons
citizens might be confused over why the police were sporting mohicans
these days- they nicked him and boarded up the squat.
FAIR DINKUM RACISM
Just to show that Australias right wing and its Bush-lacky
PM John Howard arent as dumb as they look, theres been
some great mental gymnastics shown after the race riots in Sydney
last week. The riot which saw pissed-up hordes draped in
Aussie flags smashing cars and kicking off, was allegedly sparked
by some violence by Lebanese youths on Cronulla beach. The staggering
leap of ideas these demonstrators were able to make with their blinding
intellect was that the Lebanese trouble makers are linked
with Australias so-called very own 9-11 - the 2002 Bali bombings,
which killed 200 including many Aussies. The link in their minds
has a name xenophobia, racism, Islamophobia take your pick.
With protesters calling for them to all f*ck off home
(even ones who were born there?), SchNEWS was wondering if some
of those white Australians might like to return to their mother
and er father lands, and give the country back to Aboriginals. But
then we realised that meant theyd come here which would mean
wed have to start our own send em back campaign.
Meanwhile the Liberal (conservative) government which rolled in
on a racist anti-refugee ticket in the last election has claimed
that Australia has a proud record of tolerance. Given the fact that
the country officially had its own white Australia policy
until the late 60s we reckon its not only the Aboriginals
whore living in the Dreamtime.
In a display of morbid callousness, Bedfordshire County Council
waited until travellers were at a funeral in Ireland before removing
their caravans. The window of opportunity as Councillor
for Caddington and Slip End Richard Stay put it arose as the whole
family was mourning a relative abroad. The family had parked up
at the Timberlands site, in Pepperstock three weeks ago, but Bedfordshire
County Council claimed they were staying illegally. Heartless Dicky
was apparently delighted by the outcome of the ruse.
The travellers will now have to pay hefty fines to get their vans
out of the council compound. Justifying his actions Stay said The
county council has been able to take firm and robust action to remove
the caravans - the family had no right to be there. Im glad
we were able to find a mechanism to remove them because it can be
difficult to do so under current legislation. Lets hope
that next time one of Mr Stays dearly beloved shuffles off
this mortal coil somebody parks a truck on his front lawn while
hes paying his respects.
Anyone who fancies congratulating him on his cunning should drop
a line to firstname.lastname@example.org
or 312 Manor Road, Caddington, Nr Luton, LU1 4DN.
SPIN TO WIN
In a shock move unprecedented in SchNEWS history, we are encouraging
our readers to VOTE
. in this years Worst EU Lobbying
Award by a corporate body.
The election is organized by Spinwatch and FoE amongst others.
The vote is designed to find the years most offensive, hypocritical
example of Corporate Greenwashing in the Brussels corridors
of power. Backed by almost a billion euros per year, over 10,000
corporate lobbyists roam Brussels. Ever more inventive ways of gaining
influence are being used. Pretending to be concerned environmentalists,
buying science, funding extremist capitalist think-tanks, these
shadowy, powerful lobby groups manage to get their interests satisfied.
This is your opportunity to decide which case deserves to be remembered
as the most ruthless influence peddler, the fastest spinner of spin,
the grand master of disguise, in short who will become the Worst
EU Lobbying Award 2005 champion. See www.corporateeurope.org
Irish Continental Group, who runs the Irish ferry cargo line, caused
more waves than they expected when they hit on a time-old money
saving device - (Wage) Slaves.
Ireland saw its biggest demonstrations for twenty years as the
company attempted to replace its work force with cheap eastern European
labour. The dispute was triggered by Irish Continentals proposal
to replace 543 Irish employees with crews hired from Eastern Europe,
to be paid 3.60 euros an hour. While Irelands minimum wage
is 7.65 euros an hour, the company can avoid those rules by registering
its ships outside Ireland. Inflicting exactly what happened to their
very own forefathers on Europes new poor, bosses at the company
over fired 500 (largely Irish) staff. The top brass meanwhile, struggle
by on a mere £338 per hour, poor things. No replacement management
from Poland then boys?
A strike has meant that none of the companys ships have moved
since Nov 14th, leaving tonnes of cargo on the dockside, with one
crew barricading themselves inside the wheelhouse. The protests
were not entirely successful as unions eventually agreed to deal
whereby Irish Ferries will now be registered in Cyprus but will
still pay the minimum wage of 7.65 an hour. Two IF ships were occupied
by staff in Wales since the protests started.
* See www.indymedia.ie
NEWS SILENCED SHOCK
This is the last SchNEWS for 2005 - but dont worry well
be back next year. And if youre thinking about a New Years
resolution, why not set up a standing order for your permanently
poor SchNEWS - even if its just a quid a month. www.schnews.org.uk/extras/help.htm
LETS GET FIZZICAL
Christmas is coming, so it must be time for us to wheel out a traditional
favourite - a Coca-Cola rant. Well, they must be feeling a bit flat
as the continued opposition to their operations in India keeps mounting.
Residents in the states of Kerela and Uttar Pradesh are sick of
the companys over-indulgence with the local water supply (See
SchNEWS 474), and the
past weeks have seen more mass demonstrations at the gates of bottling
plants. It wasnt quite Coke and a smile of course - the protestors
have been met with police violence and arrests. The pressure does
work though and one bottling plant in the south has been closed
since March because of pressure from farmers in the area.
Under a banner saying: In the land of milk and honey Pepsi/Coke
- we dont want any! (Ok, it could be snappier - but
they obviously havent got a Coke-sized budget for copywriters),
local groups are also demanding that the state initiate criminal
culpability and liability cases against Coke for destruction
of lives, livelihood, health and environment of the people
(Now thats a slogan! We had Can them, not water, sugar,
caramel, caffeine, phosphoric & citric acid and a secret recipe
of special chemicals... Mmm, not that catchy either). Keep
up to date at www.IndiaResource.org
SchNEWS in Brief
- Keep Our NHS Public! Demonstration this Saturday (17th)
in Cambridge. Meet 12.30 at Guildhall, Market Square. And check
out the new bulletin service from Keep Our NHS Public www.keepournhspublic.com
- The occupation of Dalkeith Country Park continues (see
SchNEWS 522). They need help to protect
precious mature trees and vital wildlife habitat. Why not do something
beneficial with your Christmas and go and stand in front of a
bulldozer or, failing that, support their campaign with a gift
- theyre asking for money, chocolate, blankets, rope, tarpaulins,
hot food, tinned food, nuts, love, mobile phones and credit, visits,
tools, vehicle use, climbing equipment, water and your energy
- take yer pick! Contact the tree defenders direct on 07783 904397
or the protest site on 07967 488703. Watch a short movie about
it at http://scotland.indymedia.org/media/all/display/3332
- Sing-along-a-picket outside Yarls Wood Removal Centre,
December 17th, 12.00pm. Twinwoods Road, Clapham, Bedfordshire.
Yarls wood has been called the Bleak House for
our times (see SchNEWS 524). Legal Action
for Women: email@example.com
020 7482 2496, 07958 152171
A GOOD BLOKE
RIP Bloke who tragically died in France a month back. Bloke played
in the band Flannel, and was our very own anarchist Alf Garnett.
He never shut up - couldnt be shut up. Loyal and true and
fiercely protective about what he believed in - and crucially the
people he cared about. This Sunday (18th) at the Concorde 2 in Brighton
is a fund raising event for his long term partner and 2 children.
4pm till 2am £10, DJS and bands including Los Albertos
and of course, Flannel.
WRITE TO A PRISONER THIS CHRISTMAS
Let those on the inside know we are there for them on the outside
- send a political prisoner a card this Christmas. There are loads
of people serving time for kicking back against the bastards and
they love receiving letters of support from all concerned. See www.vpsg.org
(animal rights porridge-eaters) and www.brightonabc.org.uk
SchNEWSs favourite Nordic stormtroopers the BNP came a cropper
when an attempt to co-opt the Mr Men into the struggle for white
nationalism backfired. Mr Jihads appearance on the BNPs
website humour page (think Bernard Manning with a hangover),
prompted a cease and desist letter from the owners.
Maybe everyone should send them a cease and desist letter.
The BNP humour page is preceded by a statement; if
anyone is offended - tough! The essence of comedy is to have fun
at someone elses expense! Hows that from a bunch
of no-neck drivellers with less chance of getting into power than
the Natural Law Party.
|In burst of unashamed capitalism (well slightly
ashamed) we want you to buy our new DVD!! Featuring the best
of this years short SchMOVIES, including EDO, DSEI, G8, and
loads of extras. All in high definition, but not THX sound.
Thrills, spills and coppers aplenty. Place your orders now,
out 14th of January. Buy this for £6 inc p+p at www.schnews.org.uk/schmovies
and keep SchNEWS free.
SchNEWS warns all readers that the revolution wont come
gift wrapped with batteries included. Honest!
OUT NOW!!! 'SCHNEWS
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