Immigration prisoners are "exploited for cheap labour", say the Oxford and District Trades Union Council. The rejected asylum seekers, who are locked up for lengthy periods pending their deportation, are being paid £5 for six-hour shifts or 83p an hour of cleaning and kitchen work. The Home Office admitted migrants imprisoned in detention centres are "exempt from the minimum wage" but claimed they are "not forced to work."
A statement by the Oxford and District TUC said: "We maintain our position that Campsfield is a shameful operation and should be closed. As long as it is open, jobs should be properly paid and be done by trained staff. For detainees there should be adequate recreational, educational and other provision.”
Since taking over the running of Campsfield in June 2006, Global Expertise in Outsourcing (GEO) has cut back on both staffing levels and educational, recreational and other provisions at the centre. A GEO guard has reportedly said that, according to Home Office rules, they could only pay detainees a maximum of £24 a week. GEO’s main business is immigration detention centres and mental health centres throughout the world, especially in USA, UK, South Africa and Australia. It also runs a part of Guantánamo Bay base in Cuba.
Private companies like GEO that run immigration detention centres make huge profits. Seven of the UK’s ten detention centres are run by private companies. The average cost for detaining someone in 2007/08 was £119 per day.
According to the immigration law, all asylum seekers are prohibited from work and live on state support, which is fixed at 70% of what is deemed to be the bare minimum to live on. The majority of those held in immigration detention centres are rejected asylum seekers (have not been granted leave to enter or remain in the UK) who are waiting to be deported back home.