G4S fires 300 POPCRU members for staging strike - COSATU

Federation says it is appalled by actions of private company managing the Mangaung Correctional Centre

COSATU statement on the privatization of prisons

The Congress of South African Trade Unions is completely appalled to hear that the private security company, G4S, that is running the Mangaung Correctional Centre in the Free State, has mercilessly fired more than 300 Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) members for staging a strike.

This had led to a spate of stabbings at the prison since the middle of September and this week the situation ended in a hostage drama where a senior female warden was taken hostage by four inmates.

What is even more astounding is that government has opted to privatize an institution that is ought to rehabilitate social delinquents. It ought to be a national scandal that private companies are being handed huge amounts of taxpayers' money to profit from this rehabilitation process. It is even worse when these companies sack workers for raising issues regarding the conditions that they work under.

It is worrying that G4S, a British-Danish private security company that provides services and equipment to Israeli prisons, checkpoints, the Apartheid Wall and the Israeli police has now been courted by our government to milk tax payer's money in order to finance its controversial operations in the apartheid state of Israel.

G4S's modus operandi is indicative of two of the most worrying aspects of neoliberal capitalism and Israeli apartheid; the ideology of "security" and the increasing privatisation of what have been traditionally state run sectors. Security, in this context, does not imply security for everyone, but rather, when one looks at the major clients of G4S Security (banks, governments, corporations etc) it becomes evident that when G4S says it is "Securing your World", as the company slogan goes, it is referring to a world of exploitation, repression, occupation and racism.

Those without money and power are evidently seen either as not worthy of security, or as the threats which G4S's clients require to be secured against. Which is why G4S careless less about the prison conditions in South Africa, the security of the defenceless peace-loving people of Palestine.

We call on our government to cut ties with this company whose record for gross human rights violations speaks volumes.

We further call on the Department of Correctional Services to reinstate the dismissed workers with immediate effect!

Statement issued by Vusumuzi Bhengu, COSATU Shop Steward Editor, October 5 2013

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