Prisoners Paid £3-Per-Day To Work In Call Centre

A call centre in Wales is bussing prisoners 21 miles to work in the private business for £3 a day, the Guardian has reported.

Dozens of prisoners from Prescoed open prison in Monmouthshire, south Wales, have been doing "work experience" for at least two months at a rate of 40p an hour in the private company's telephone sales division in Cardiff, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has confirmed.

According to the Guardian, roofing and environmental refitting company Becoming Green established an arrangement with minimum security HMP Prescoed late last year, and have taken on a staff of 23 prisoners.

12 are currently being paid just 6% of the minimum wage.

The newspaper also added that when they contacted the company last month, that figure was 17 – 15% of the company's call centre staff.

The company went on to confirm that since it had started to use prisoners, other workers had been fired, with ex-staff putting this number at 17 since December 2011.

However, the firm said firings were part of the "normal call centre environment" and it had hired other staff in a recent expansion.

Reportedly the category D prison had allowed Becoming Green to pay prisoners just £3 a day for at least 40 working days, but added that they could continue to pay at that level for much longer if it wanted.

A company spokesman could not say how long any one prisoner had been employed on this token wage, adding that the company had an agreement to take a maximum of 20% of its work force from the prison, the Guardian reported.

At the start of the year, the justice secretary, Kenneth Clarke, announced an expansion of mainly manufacturing work inside prisons. But against a background of disquiet from unions, he has continued to stress that prisoners would not be putting other people out of work. Clarke said last month that such a development would be a "a very serious downside" to the policy.

People working in the prisons sector described the scheme as "disgusting" and a "worrying development".


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