How many products do you buy or services you use, here in the UK that are produced by slave labour? Workers here in the UK that are paid as little as 30p to 50p an hour, and it is all perfectly legal and encouraged by the government. In fact it couldn't happen without the government organising and delivering this bonus to the corporate world.
A host of well known and little known companies benefit from this government produced bonanza, right here under our eyes. I am of course referring to prisoners being used as cheap labour for the business world. This in turn allows companies to pay off workers who have to be paid the minimum wage, who get sick pay, who get paid holidays and can take action against an unjust action by their employer. None of these conditions are allowed while being employed in prison. You are a captive slave labour force with no workers rights and you are being more or less forced to feed the rich and powerful, at the expense of your fellow workers on the outside.
In August 2016 the US department of Justice announced that they are going to set about phasing out their use of private prisons, which triggered a spate of moral high-horsing from British people who tried to claim that our private prison riddled system is still superior to the US system because at least here in the UK we don't use prisoners as a cheap source of labour.
The map in the article header proves how wrongheaded this attitude is. Just because they haven't heard of Britain's prison labour management company One3One, doesn't mean that it doesn't exist, or that it isn't farming out prison labour to ever increasing numbers of private companies that are queuing up to take advantage of prison labour for as little as 30p an hour.
Prisoners in England and Wales are being used as a cheap source of labour in all kinds of industries including printing, textiles, engineering, woodwork, laundry and even assembling plastic poppies for the Royal British Legion.
The idea of training prisoners up with skills so that they are less likely to reoffend when they get out of jail is a vary good idea in principle, but the problem with farming prison labour out to the private sector is absolutely obvious. If scores of companies all over the UK are taking advantage of prison labour for as little as 30p an hour, then this availability of extremely cheap labour has an obvious downwards effect on wages and employment rates in whichever business sectors they become involved in.
Since the Lib-Dems enabled the Tories back into power in 2010, British workers have suffered the longest sustained period of long-term wage deflation in recorded history. The real terms value of British wages has slumped 10.4% since the economic crisis, a wage decline only matched in severity by Greece out of all of the most developed economies in the world.
The Tories have been doing everything they can to reduce wages and the disposable incomes of ordinary people: They've reduced public sector wages in real terms by imposing below inflation 1% pay rises (whilst accepting an 11% pay raise for themselves), they've overseen an exponential rise in people employed on exploitative Zero Hours Contracts, they've repeatedly slashed in-work benefits like Tax Credits and Housing Benefit, they've massively increased the amounts charged for university education and the interest rates charged on this appalling form of Aspiration Tax, they've unlawfully used unemployed people as a massive pool of free labour to distribute to their corporate mates and they've massively expanded the number of prisoners working for private companies too.
The economic effect of prison labour driving down the wages of ordinary workers is bad enough in itself, but there is evidence that the availability of prison labour is actually resulting in real job losses as unscrupulous companies lay off their paid workforces and replace them with prison labour.
Here are some specific examples:
DHL According to the One3One website the global distribution company employs over 800 UK based prisoners to receive orders, pick, pack and ship. Meanwhile they have been shutting distribution centres, laying off hundreds of paid staff across the country (including 330 jobs in Droitwich, 200 job losses in Swindon and further job losses in Scunthorpe and Corby), and slashing wages across their distribution network prompting strike action. This is how Chris Taylor, DHL General Account Manager described the scheme on the One3One Solutions website: "Once you are through the prison door we like to create an environment identical to any DHL workplace".
A Cardiff based loft insulation and solar panel instillation company that laid off 17 workers at their call centre and replaced them with prisoners from Prescoed prison at an hourly rate of just 40p an hour.
Speedy Hire A tool hire company that sacked 800 workers and shut down 75 depots in 2010. Since then they have massively increased the size of their prison contract to service and repair the tools they hire out, paying Erlestoke, Garth and Pentonville prisons £114,012 for the services of around 100 prisoners during the 2010-11 financial year.
The boss James Timson is happy to act as a propaganda mouthpiece for the government's prison labour scheme, but what he fails to mention in his praise for the programme is that his company's increased use of prison labour coincided with a wave of redundancies that wiped out some 30% of the paid workforce at the company.
Cisco Cisco is mentioned by the Tory MP Andrew Selous as being a big player in the government's prison labour scheme. In August 2016 the company announced that it plans to lay off 5,500 workers worldwide. Perhaps they could prevent a few job losses in the UK by bringing the services they've outsourced to prison labour schemes back in-house?Read the full article HERE:
An extract from an excellent article on prison slave labour by IWW Incarcerated Workers Organising Committee.
Workplaces of the future?
Read the full article HERE:Prison LabourOverviewDuring every moment of a prison sentence, someone somewhere is profiting from that person being caged. The UK has the most privatised prison system in Europe, and since the early 1990s, when the first private prisons were built, prisons are increasingly being used to line the pockets of companies and individuals. Prisons have always benefited those in power; a longstanding tool of social control and repression used against working class communities.
Prisoner that work in prisons have no rights to organise, no contracts, no pensions, no right to to choose what they do – they have no use of the gains that workers have fought and died for over centuries. If prisoners refuse to work they are punished via the IEP (Incentives and Earned Privileges Scheme), and can have visits, association (time outside in a courtyard or out of cell) and other ‘privileges’ take away from them. They are the ultimate captive workforce for capitalist industries and have been used to break strikes, while simultaneously taking jobs out of communities and into prisons. Prison labour has been used as a tool for conquest and domination for centuries, from using convict labour to colonise countries, to putting prisoners to work in making goods for armies and war.
IWOC are working on a report about Prison Labour and Prisoner Exploitation in England, Wales and Scotland that will hopefully be available by Summer 2016. These key facts and statistics paint a brief overview of prison labour here:
One3One Solutions is the trading arm of the Ministry of Justice founded in 2012. Over 9,700 prisoners were employed in their profit-making partnerships with private companies, with a total of 13.1 million prisoner working hours being recorded (1).