Statement from ‘Right to Work’ Campaign on Cardiff Prison’s new gourmet restaurant
We are shocked and outraged that Cardiff prison has opened a gourmet restaurant to be staffed by prison labour earning only £15 for a five-day working week.
The proprietors of the restaurant are already shamelessly promoting their Christmas menu for £24.95 per head. Ironically the restaurant is situated on the site of the former visitor centre at the prison.
This is just the latest example of ‘Prisonfare’, a scheme recently uncovered at Becoming Green, a solar panel company also based in Cardiff who have been employing prisoners for the same wage - £3 a day – in their call centre on Newport Road.
Both schemes involve the transportation of prisoners from HMP Prescoed in Usk, Monmouthshire.
Last month it was revealed that the Ministry of Justice has 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.
At the moment in Britain 1 in 12 people are unemployed while more than 20% of young people aged 16-24 are without work. These prison labour schemes will only accelerate this trend as firms outsource operations into prisons in a bid to boost profits.
Ramon Corria, secretary of Cardiff Trades Council said:
“We’ve got absolutely no problem with prisoners learning new skills but we’ve also learnt that the furniture going in this restaurant will be made by prisoners. Well, that furniture could have been made by Remploy workers, but all the factories are now being closed down and workers thrown on the scrapheap”
‘Prisonfare’ is a policy aimed at massively increasing the profits of a handful of people while entrenching poverty for the majority. Whilst we have no objection to prisoners working, we believe they should be paid at least the minimum wage for their efforts.
‘Right to Work’ activists have carried out a series of protests at Becoming Green’s offices during the past six weeks. Workers there talked to protestors and spoke of how some prisoners were previously being paid even less – as little as £1 a day working for other companies and the local council.
We feel this is unacceptable and we will continue to raise awareness of this issue and expose other employers who seek to exploit prisoners for their own financial gain.