Following last weeks protest Right to Work South Wales has initiated an open letter challenging the use of prison labour to replace call centre workers in Cardiff.
Activists are also building for another demonstration outside the offices of Becoming Green on Wednesday 15th August from 4.30pm at the offices of Becoming Green, Eastgate House. Newport Road, Cardiff CF24 0AB.
We are shocked and outraged by revelations that a green energy firm, Becoming Green, has been using prisoners to staff its call centres. The company, based in Cardiff, has been bussing in prisoners from nearby and paying them as little as 40p an hour (£3 a day).
After this was revealed, HMP announced it had plans to move entire call centres into prisons. This is a form of 21st century slavery, where rehabilitation is scrapped in favour of hyper-exploitation. It is, in the words of the Unite union, Dickensian.
If Becoming Green is a test case for this, we should be very concerned. As well as using inmates as almost free labour it has sacked 17 fully paid workers since December, with prisoners now accounting for 15% of the workforce. At the moment in Britain 1 in 12 people are unemployed while more than 20% of young people aged 16-24 are without work. The scheme proposed by HMP will only accelerate this trend as firms outsource operations into prisons in a bid to boost profits.
It will also, no doubt, create a competitive downward pressure on wages. In the midst of a recession, with GDP and living standards tumbling, these measures will not aid recovery but lead the economy further into the quagmire it’s in. As with the governments workfare scheme, ‘prisonfare’ is a policy aimed at massively increasing the profits of a handful of people while entrenching poverty for the majority.
It is vital that the trade union movement acts to stop this attack on jobs and incomes – and to defend those who are suffering at the sharp end of this exploitation. We offer our full support for action which calls for Becoming Green to withdraw and for the government scheme to be scrapped.
Bob Crow – RMT General Secretary
Andy Richards – Unite Wales General Secretary
Belinda Robinson – Unite Wales Regional Women’s and Equalities Officer
Ian Hodson - National President, Bakers Food & Allied Workers Union
Seb Cooke – Right To Work South Wales
Peter Harris – Secretary PCS Wales
Marianne Owens – Vice Chair PCS Wales
Steve West – PCS DWP Group Executive
Anne Greagsby – Green Party Wales Campaign Co-ordinator
Daniel De’Ath – Cardiff councillor
Celia Love – Cardiff councillor
Glenn Page – Plaid Cymru Ifanc (Plaid Cymru Youth)
Richard Morse, Secretary Torfaen Trades Council
Malcolm Degroot – Secretary Newport Trades Council
Dr Liza van Zyl – UCU Wales Vice Chair
Andrew Wilkes Wales Rep, Unite Construction Rank and File Committee
Cerith Griffiths Wales FBU ChairRamon Corria, Secretary Cardiff Trades CouncilClive Taylor, Branch Organiser, PCS South East Wales BranchAndrew Jinks, Plaid Cymru and Unite community memberJon Gamble – Secretary, Watford Trades CouncilSean Wallis – Branch secretary, UCL UCUAdam Johannes, Cardiff Unemployed Daytime Disco
Mark Dunk – Right to Work and Unite community member
Andy Parsons PCSJaime Davies USDAWCharlotte Bence UnisonAmelia BarkerSophie RobertsPhil Dobbinson CPS CardiffJill Lewis UCU Committee University of East LondonCllr Peter Foley, Bridgend County Borough Council (IND)Neil Harrison, Branch Chair PCS: National Museum WalesKerry Fairless Chair PCS Eastern Region
Sally Kincaid Divisional Sec Wakefield & District NUT
Steve Ryan Branch Secreatary PCS R&C North Wales
Sarah Allen Melvin Vice Chair PCS South West
Patricia Clinton NUS LGBT Committee Women’s Officer
Richard Evans PCS R&C South Wales
Sarah Weeks Unite
Ralph Williams Secretary Dover & District Trades Council
Hamish Drummond Dundee Trades Council
No to ‘Prisonfare’ – Real jobs Now!
JOIN THE DEMONSTRATION:
Assemble 4.30pm on Wednesday 15th August.
Cardiff CF24 0AB