(Photo: Neil Conway)
Inmates at the Berlin Tegel jail in Germany have to work at regular shifts inside the prison. To many of them, this makes them not just prisoners, but employees. So they've formed a union to represent their interests as workers.
Starting next year, Germany will have a minimum hourly wage of approximately $11.56 (USD). But prisoners at the jail earn only about $12-20 per day. So the prisoners hope that their union will raise their wages and provide for a pension scheme so that elderly inmates do not emerge from prison penniless. This is important to them because under the current law, prisoners are not allowed to participate in Germany's national pension plan. Philip Olterman of The Guardian describes the history of prison labor organization:
While there have been past attempts to set up union-like structures within prison walls, they have usually been short-lived and ceased to exist once individual inmates were released. In Britain, an organisation called Preservation of the Rights of Prisoners (PROP) was set up in the early 1970s but eventually faded away.
On Tuesday, Rast's cell was searched by prison staff, who reportedly confiscated documents relating to the foundation of the union. Rast was sentenced to prison in 2009 for his involvement in the leftwing organisation militante gruppe, which committed a series of arson attacks on government buildings between 2001 and 2009.
-via Marginal Revolution