According to the UK Hardware store 'Wilkinson's', their use of compulsory prison labour is,
"helping to rehabilitate prisoners and increase their employability".
This is of course a thin smokescreen for ruthless opportunism since it's hard to imagine how packing small items for Wilko's is going to rehabilitate prisoners, who prior to the intervention of these greedy private companies, had far greater access to education and were able to learn proper trade skills.
Companies like Wilkinson's merely see this slave labour force as something to exploit in order to increase their profits, and all subsidised by the taxpayer. The UK Home Secretary David Blunkett is now moving to get prisoners to pay for their own incarceration by introducing so-called part-time prisons, so no doubt they're going to also be required to do part-time jobs.
As prisoners already do work for Wilkinson's (being paid the princely sum of £1.20 per day) we thought the firm might be interested in employing a part-time prisoner in one of their stores. Suitably dressed, Insecurity Guard Mark Barnsley and Part-Time Prisoner Wolfie went to Hull Wilkos to find out.
Entering the store handcuffed together the pair first tested just how little £1.20 will buy you in Wilkinson's.A pack of toilet rolls, the sort of item prisoners are increasingly having to pay for themselves, proved too dear
But Guard Barnsley was very interested by the bags of 'mixed screws'. Just the type of thing prisoners are forced to pack for Wilkos. Our prisoner was less impressed as of course he's none too fond of screws.
Moving on, they decided it was time to try and see what Wilko's attitude to employing part-time prisoners would be, none too forthcoming of course, with nothing actually available. We strongly suspect they'd be no keener to employ the ex-prisoners who've previously slaved for them inside, not least since unlike in prison they'd have to pay them minimum wage. The Hull store did present one opportunity though, in the form of a photo booth which Guard Barnsley thought might be a good place to take Wolfie's new ID photo.
For more info go to the Campaign Against Prison SlaveryLetter to Mr Wilko