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Private prison hit by strike

By Chester Makana | Jun 10, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

MORE THAN 3000 prisoners at the privately owned Kutama-Sinthumule Maximum Prison in Louis Trichardt, Limpopo, were left hungry yesterday after a wildcat strike by warders.

The 300 strikers forced prison management to flee the premises, while an estimated 3500 inmates did not receive their food. The warders allegedly demanded that the prison management implement occupation specific dispensation (OSD).

The strike also raised concerns about prisoners living with HIV-Aids because they allegedly could not get their medication and food yesterday.

"The sick prisoners are suffering," Golden Miles-Bhudu, president of the South African Prisoners Organisation for Human Rights said yesterday.

"This is very sad. Prisoners should not suffer because of differences between employees and management. The strike will compromise the immune systems of those suffering from HIV-Aids because they need food and medication on a regular basis."

The strikers, mainly members of the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru), went on a wildcat strike after accusing management of delaying the implementation of OSD.

The union said it wanted management to implement a Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) resolution, which dictated that workers be paid according to the OSD agreement.

Popcru claimed the union was never consulted before members received their salaries.

Popcru spokesperson Norman Mampane said prison management had failed to act in terms of the recommendations of the OSD and that was why members had gone on strike.

Mampane said the union had negotiated in good faith but management had undermined them by dragging its feed and not honouring the agreement.

"We negotiated in good faith but when it came to implementation management acted in bad faith. This is a clear demonstration of abuse of power by management. They have provoked the workers," Mampane said.

Popcru provincial secretary Morris Sithole said they were unhappy about management's failure to properly implement OSD. He said the union was equally not impressed by members forcing prison authorities off the premises.

"We are going to engage prison management so that they can recalculate the figures and pay the workers on an acceptable scale. We also appeal to workers to return to work," Sithole said.


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