Saskatchewan inmates on strike after daily wages reduced to $1
Taline McPhedran, CTVNews.ca
Published Thursday, May 4, 2017 8:55PM EDT
Some inmates in a provincial Saskatchewan prison have launched a labour strike after their daily wages were slashed.
New Saskatchewan budget cuts have reduced previous working wages for provincial inmates from $3 a day to $1 a day.
Inmates at the Regina Provincial Correctional Facility like Kenny Morrison, who has been in the facility on remand for about eight months, have refused to partake in their jobs after learning about the new wages that came into effect on May 1.
“It's been two days and there's garbage in our unit, the laundry is full,” Morrison told CTV Regina. “There's garbage all over; it's not very clean.
Morrison works in the jail as a cleaner, mopping units, scrubbing showers and taking out the garbage for his daily wage which can be used to buy items from the canteen or can go towards phone calls.
“Phone calls are $2.50, just for one phone call. So a day's work doesn’t even get you a phone call home to your family,” said Morrison.
According to Morrison, more than 60 inmates are involved in the labour strike. However, Drew Wilby, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice, said they are only aware of six inmates participating: two cleaners and four inmates who work the food carts.
“We feel that ($1) is still a fair wage rate for these individuals to receive,” said Wilby. “It provides incentive to perform work within the facility and we’ll continue to monitor this as it goes ahead.”
According to Wilby, working inmates were previously paid $3 a day while inmates who did not work were given $1 a day. The new rules have working inmates being paid $1 a day while inmates who don’t work receive nothing.
Inmates in federal facilities can make anywhere from $1 a day to $6.90 a day, depending on behaviour and merit. Provincial facility inmates make the same wage across the board, regardless of good behaviour, according to Wilby.
“Not only is there the wage but the flexibility and freedom,” said Wilby. “There's a little bit more out-of-cell time and it's looked at as a position of responsibility.”
According to Wilby, the four food cart workers have since been replaced due to a long waitlist and the two cleaners will be replaced if they decide to continue striking.
Morrison said the next step for the striking inmates could be to extend their labour strike to include a hunger strike.
With a report from CTV Regina's Christeen Jesse