Friday, October 4, 2013

Federal Inmates On Strike: Wait-What Friday

Issues taken Seriously!
Federal Inmates in a number of penitentiaries, having started with the Atlantic Institution in my very own NB, are striking from their work-related duties to protest low pay. Inmates, who do the jobs you might imagine, are paid, on average, $3 a day. Until, that is, about a week ago, when they took a 30% pay cut as part of the Federal deficit reduction plan.

It is to laugh!

Okay, for the uninitiated, labour strikes are a huge part of Canadian culture. The publicly schooled hear from a very early age how fantastically wonderful it was that unions did what they did and the existence of a Federally-Mandated Minimum Wage is a pretty good argument in their favour.

But in economics a labour strike only works if there isn't enough of a labour pool to counterbalance the impact to the employer of his workforce suddenly evaporating in a puff of self-determination. In the free world, this condition exists because the law demands it. In a prison, these conditions only exist if those lucky enough to work can convince those whom they were preventing, by their existence, from getting work detail to join them in their strike.

There's an argument among some that the money is primarily used for surviving the initial jobless period that comes with a release from prison - without the money, the only path would be back to jail, through the courts, and back to prison. Bullpucky. Most of that money is getting used for commissary.

Do I think prisoners could make more money? Only if it's economically viable. I'm sorry, but you're under criminal detention for a reason.

And I know it's not economically viable, because they just took a pay cut to help reduce the deficit.

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