Call centres to be established *in* prisons… so even higher category inmates can work as slaves

09/08/2012

I’d say this is unbelievable – except of course it’s nothing of the kind. I’ve just recently written a post about how inmates in open prisons are being used as slave labour in call centres, earning themselves £3 per day – that’s right, you didn’t misread that – £3 per day, not per hour. And now, to outdo itself in amorality, now there’s a plan to build call centres inside prisons, so higher category prisoners will be able to take advantage of this great career move. And how much will the prisoners be paid? Strangely, no one wanted to tell the Guardian a specific amount – but surprise surprise:

It is unclear how much prisoners would be paid at call centres inside prisons but under current rules prisoners on “work experience” are paid £3 a day, with no set maximum to the work experience period.

The MoJ said there were varying levels of pay for those working inside prisons with the lowest being around £3 a day

So, prisons will be putting people out of a job, as there’s no way someone “on the out” (prison slang meaning “not in jail”), with rent/mortgage to pay and possibly family to support will be able to work for such a ridiculous figure.

This scheme is supposed to help inmates to rehabilitate, apparently. And guess what: similar projects are under way in the USA. With many positive outcomes no doubt, stopping the drugs and the killings and the ever-pervasive gang culture that helps make US “prisoner warehouses” such lovely places.

According to the Guardian:

An MoJ spokesperson said, “Prisoners who learn the habit of real work inside prison are less likely to commit further crime when they are released. For that reason the Prisons Service is looking at a number of potential schemes to increase work opportunities in prisons.

“All contracts with outside employers must comply with a strict code of practice which sets out that prisoners cannot be used to replace existing jobs in the community. Prisoner wages, for those in closed prisons, are set by prison governors and companies have no control over the level of payment.”

And guess who’s going to run the service and make the money: a company called ONE3ONE Solutions, which is owned by the prison service (apparently called ONE3ONE because there are 131 prisons). And our Beloved Leader David Cameron makes an appearance in the ONE3ONE prospectus, urging businesses to take advantage of the opportunity working prisoners offered. “Prisoners working productively towards their own rehabilitation will contribute to the UK economy and make reparation to society,” he wrote.

“Many businesses, large and small, already make use of prison workshops to produce high quality goods and services and do so profitably. They are not only investing in prisons but in the future of their companies and the country as a whole. I urge others to follow their lead and seize the opportunity that working prisons offer.”

Yes, it’s a good idea to take these jobs away from people who aren’t prisoners. They’ll become unemployed and, frustrated by their inability to support their families, they might be tempted to commit crimes (dealing in class A drugs like heroin and crack cocaine can be lucrative, I understand). Then, when they’re arrested for these crimes, they’ll be sent to prison where they will actually be able to get their old jobs back!

Oh yes, a grand, calculated scheme. Where can I get hold of some shares in ONE3ONE?

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Call centre lays off employees – and replaces them with prisoner slave labour!

08/08/2012

An article in the Guardian today (8 August 2012) tells how a call centre in Wales has laid off 15% of their employees, and replaced them with prisoners from Prescoed prison in Monmouthshire, paying them 40p per hour – just 6% of the Minimum Wage!

The roofing and environmental refitting company Becoming Green has taken on a staff of 23 prisoners. Currently 12 are being paid just 6% of the minimum wage.  The law specifically exempts prisoners from any right to the minimum wage,which suits Becoming Green just fine – it confirmed that since it started using prisoners, it had fired other workers – regular workers who do have the right to be paid the minimum wage.. Former employees put the number of workers laid off at 17 since December.

Becoming Green claim that there had been “performance issues” with the employees who had been fired; but the workers themselves say they were meeting targets and had worked as required.  Workers and ex-employees say it’s obvious that Becoming Green had sacked the regular workers because they can get slave labourers from the prison to do the same work for pennies.

Spokespersons for the Howard League for Penal Reform and prisoners’ charity Unlock said they’d never before heard of prisoners being used like this, taking jobs from other people while being prison wages – a derisory £3 per day that was dubiously justified as “training rates”.

So,is this another way for the booming private prison industry to finance itself – allowing businesses to use inmates as slave labour in return for kick-backs? Why else would the prisons let their inmates be taken advantage of in this way?

Apparently Kenneth Clarke wants to increase the number of prisoners working for outside companies. But speaking about the expansion of prison work from 10,000 to 20,000 prisoners over the next decade, Clarke told the BBC last month: “It would be a very serious downside if we started replacing job opportunities for law-abiding people, and we’ve been conscious of that all the way through.” Was this ignorance? Or a calculated lie?

Steve Gillan, general secretary of the Prison Officers Association, said that for any company to rely on cheap labour of prisoners was “immoral and disgusting”.

He went on:

The association wants to see prisoners working and leading law-abiding lives but not at the expense of other workers being sacked or laid off to facilitate it.

Some employers must be rubbing their hands and the shareholders laughing all the way to the bank.

The ministers must be held to account if the factual position is this company has sacked workers to employ prisoners … The general public will be outraged if this proves to be widespread and proper scrutiny of contracts needs to be made public to ensure public confidence.

Private prisons, government-approved slave-labour, honest workers being sacked to make room for slaves with no right to the minimum wage… who’d a thunk it?

Well, quite a few people would have seen this coming – the cranks, the crackpops, the tin-foil hat brigade. Remember that, when you hear another outlandish conspiracy theory…

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Wikileaks.org is back up! Not a *huge* victory for freedom and common sense – but a victory nevertheless

15/12/2010

On 3 December, we reported that you could no longer reach the Wikileaks site by using the wikileaks.org URL. Well, that is no longer the case: aim your browser at “http://wikileaks.org” and you get rerouted to http://mirror.wikileaks.info/ – one of the many, many mirrors that sprouted after the USA’s clumsy efforts to limit free speech. Not a major victory by any means. But a victory nevertheless.

In other (Wikileaks/Assange-related) news: Julian Assange is still in prison even though he was granted bail yesterday. The Swedish prosecutors have appealed against the bail ruling, claiming that he would pose a major flight risk. I’m not sure how the Swedes think he’ll flee: Assange’s face must be one of the best known in border security circles, plus they have his passport… but as things stand, he must remain in HMP Wandsworth for at leat another couple of days while this judicial circus runs its course.

This case is highlighting the problems with the new European arrest warrant system. Usually, it is only possible to extradite someone if the crime he’s accused of is also a crime in the country he’s “hiding” in. As far as I can tell, Assange’s alleged crimes are not illegal in Britain (what the Swedes call “rape” and “sexual molestation” are very different to the UK’s definitions – I believe one of the charges relates to Assange refusing to use a condom; the complainant admits that the sex was consensual, so how in hell can this be called a crime? He didn’t force her to have unprotected sex).

Anyway, a blog like this one is not really a good place to discuss the intricacies of Swedish law. But what I will say is this: Sweden has got very accommodating rendition agreements with the USA. If Assange is extradited to Sweden, it won’t be long before he ends up in America. And if you look at what politicians are saying about Assange it’s pretty clear he won’t receive a free trial and he’ll end up on a slab.

But do these people really believe that Assange is Wikileaks? The leaks will continue, regardless of his fate. All that will happen is that Assange’s colleagues will improve their security and anonymity. Killing (or imprisoning) Assange will not kill Wikileaks. And all politicians need to beware: if they treat Assange like a piece of shit, the leaks will become more and more damaging to the so-called “liberal” European “democracies” who are currently baying for his blood. So watch out, fools: the day of reckoning is nearly upon us… and you.

UPDATE: I just noticed this, a page that lists the very many sites that are mirroring Wikileaks in an attempt to stop the authorities ever again closing them down. Well, when I say “stop”, I actually mean “make it very difficult”. The USA has already demonstrated the length of its reach. But when Wikileaks is mirrored in a huge number of countries, some of whom dislike America intensely, the job of censorship becomes much more difficult.

There’s also info on the page about how you too can mirror Wikileaks on your web server. I say go for it! I think it’s about time that the USA learned what “democracy” actually means: rule by the people for the people; not rule by a bunch of rich geezers on behalf of their billionaire buddies. Or is my dictionary out of date?

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UK tortures terror suspects – it’s official!

27/01/2010

Wednesday 27 January 2010

United Nations human rights investigators have published a report that concludes the UK government has been “complicit in mistreatment and possible torture” of British citizens during the so-called “war on terror”, says the Guardian today.

This latest development follows a string of allegations about the United Kingdom’s own version of the infamous US practice of “extraordinary rendition”. Two months ago, the New York based Human Rights Watch reported that Pakistani intelligence officers admitted torturing British suspects on behalf of their UK counterparts. And there have been a number of allegations about MI5 (UK counter intelligence), MI6 (Secret Intelligence Service) and Greater Manchester Police officers involvement in torture at secret prisons abroad.

No doubt some people will argue that in the climate of terror that has existed since 2001, sometimes robust measures have to be taken to safeguard public safety. I would remind those people that the victims of this torture were terror suspects, not actual terrorists. Time and time again, men who have been investigated and subsequently cleared of any involvement in terrorism have claimed they were tortured. At times it has seemed that any British Muslim visiting relatives in Pakistan is fair game for arrest, secret imprisonment and torture. And many of them have been examined by doctors who have found injuries that could only have been caused by the infliction of repeated, brutal violence.

There is, for instance, the case of Binyam Mohamed. He was arrested in Pakistan and kept in a secret prison where he was tortured. During this time he was questioned by a MI5 officer who was aware of the torture. Then he was given to the CIA, who flew him secretly to Morocco, Afghanistan and finally Guantanamo Bay. He was kept there for 4 years before finally being released without charge.

Once he was back at home, Mohamed took the UK government to the High Court for its involvement in his secret imprisonment, extraordinary rendition and torture. It is useful to note that the British government did not deny his claims – David Miliband, then foreign secretary, just tried to cover it up. Miliband actually tried to censor the high court judges’ ruling, claiming it would hurt UK-USA relations if the truth about Mohamed’s treatment was made public. He actually got the CIA to write a letter to the judges saying the CIA would no longer share intelligence with the UK if Mohamed’s rendition and torture was revealed. Luckily the judges would have none of it and they published their ruling in full, criticising the government’s conduct in the matter.

Binyam Mohamed is just one example. UK agencies have repeatedly colluded with other countries to secretly imprison and torture British citizens. And who knows how many citizens of other countries have been tortured on behalf of the UK? It is a terrifying fact that absolutely anyone could fall victim to these barbaric practices.

Binyam Mohamed, tortured in Pakistan on orders of MI5

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