Privatizing food services leads to hunger strike and concerns about workers' safety

“Why should hard working Saskatchewan people be forced to pay this private company in the UK when the return is inedible food that’s putting inmates and staff at risk?” — Bob Bymoen, SGEU President

Regina (08 Jan. 2016) — The Regina Provincial Correctional Centre is dealing with the third hunger strike over a three-week period, following the handover of youth facilities and adult correctional centre food services to the foreign-owned multinational
corporation Compass Group. The hunger strike is in protest of the inedible and potentially unsafe food being served.

The Aboriginal Peoples Television Network has reported that inimates have been served uncooked meat.

Correctional workers on frontlines dealing with inmate frustation

“I am very concerned for the safety of our members on the front-lines of corrections,” says SGEU President Bob Bymoen. “It’s the members who are in contact with the inmates in the jails, and who have to deal with the issues arising from poor quality and low quantity of food, while a company from the UK profits.”

“If the government continues to allow Compass to cut corners, animosity among inmates may grow,” says Bymoen. “Who will bear the brunt of this animosity? Front-line corrections workers — who could potentially find themselves in a dangerous situation.”

Multinational corporation rakes in billions in profit but provides substandard service

Compass Group PLC made $1.7 billion in after-tax profits in 2014, and paid its CEO $12 million. “Why should hard-working Saskatchewan people be forced to pay this private company in the UK when the return is inedible food that’s putting inmates and staff at risk?” asks Bymoen.

“Government claims they’re going to save money with privatized food services, but if they just wanted to cut back on the cost of food, by serving powdered milk and replacing costlier items with bread, they could’ve achieved these savings using existing staff,” said Bymoen. “When our members provided food services, they at least provided food that was safe and edible.”

SGEU/NUPGE calls on government to terminate contract

“The government should terminate its contract with Compass and reinstate the publicly run food services that experienced and dependable government workers provided,” he added. 

The Saskatchewan government can terminate its contract with Compass on one year's notice. If Compass continues to deliver unacceptable performance, only 90 days’ notice is needed.

NUPGE 

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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