A union for prisoners? (the culture that is Germany)

A group of inmates at a prison in Berlin have set up the world’s first union for prisoners, in an attempt to campaign for the introduction of a minimum wage and a pension scheme for convicts.

Inmates at Berlin Tegel jail, where the union is based, work regular shifts in kitchens and workshops, which in the view of the union makes them “de facto employees, just like their colleagues outside the prison gates”.

“Prisoners have never had a lobby working for them. With the prisoners’ union we’ve decided to create one ourselves,”said Oliver Rast, a spokesman for the group.

In Germany, as in Britain, prisoners are excluded from national pension schemes and the national minimum wage, which in Germany’s case is planned to come into effect in 2015 at €8.50 (£6.90) an hour. Inmates at Berlin Tegel earn between €9 and €15 per day, depending on their qualifications.

The Berlin union, which is registered as an association without legal status and claims to have collected numerous signatures within the prison, criticised the exclusion of prisoners from minimum wage plans.

It said the lack of pension schemes meant that many elderly inmates were released straight into poverty.

There is more here, via Mark Thorson.


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