Monday, November 25, 2019

National supports slavery

Meanwhile, while the government is planning to restore voting rights to prisoners, National is promising to turn our prisons into US-style slave-labour camps:

The Opposition is proposing compulsory education, training or employment for prisoners who are serving sentences of two years or more.


On Sunday, National Party Leader Simon Bridges said his was a party of law and order and would release its full discussion document on the law on Tuesday.

Part of that would include making the current opt-in system of working prisons becoming compulsory.

Compulsory work or you get punished? There's a name for that: slavery. And its illegal everywhere in the world, including New Zealand.

And lest anyone think this is hyperbole: prisoners in New Zealand are paid just 20 cents an hour. They have no labour rights, cannot join unions or strike, and their "employer" is not subject to the usual health and safety regime. This is not "employment" as normally understood, with contracts, rights, and transparent deductions for expenses, but a regime which uses the coercive environment of the prison system to extract forced labour from prisoners, while undercutting real businesses and driving free workers onto the dole queue. And the New Zealand government recognises this for foreign prisons, banning the importation of goods produced by prison labour. We need to recognise it domesticly as well.

National's policy is one part Trumpian performative cruelty, and one part keeping wages low for the benefit of their business cronies. It is abhorrent and immoral, and they should be ashamed of themselves for advocating it.