In May 2014 the prisoners’ syndicate GG/BO (prisoners’ syndicate/German-wide organisation) was formed in Berlin-Tegel prison. Ever since, it expanded to more than 70 prisons in Germany and Austria and over 800 male and female, German and migrant prisoners joined it. GG/BO is an autonoumous grassroots syndicate for all incarcerated workers regardless of race and gender. Its main demands are the minimum wage of 8,50 euros, social insurance and freedom of union to all prisoners.
GG/BO react to the situation of most workers exploited within the German prison-industrial complex. 45.000 out of 65.000 prisoners work, in 12 out of 16 German federal states they are subject to the compulsion to work, they are paid one to two euros per hour and strikes as well as other labour actions are persecuted as mutiny. Beside federal state administrations, it is local industry and big business that benefit from the exploitation of cheap prisoners’ labour force in ‘Germany’s China’.
On December 1 two hundred prisoners many of whom are members of GG/BO went on slowdown and collective hunger strike. Their demands are:
- minimum wage of 8,50 euros per hour and unemployment benefits for unemployed prisoners
- social insurance
- freedom to unionise and recognition of GG/BO as trade union
- an end to all repression against GG/BO members and militants
- abolition of forced labour
- solidarity inside and outside
The days before and after the beginning of the hunger strike, militant prisoners in Butzbach were subject to severe repression at the hands of the prison authorities: solitary confinement, cell raids, repeated transfers, interception and ‘vanishing’ of letters and other material.
Even though GG/BO do not put into question prison in itself and limit their demands to concrete improvements of living and working conditions behind bars we support their struggle. For the first time in the history of anti-prison struggles in Germany, prisoners unite on the basis of clear class struggle demands. Together with migrants, they belong to the most devaluated and most precarious part of the working class of Germany. Butzbach prisoners’ hunger strike is the first open conflict of GG/BO, the first collective hunger strike of prisoners in Germany in the last twenty years and an unprecedented escalation of class struggle in German prisons.
We call on our comrades and all rebellious prisoners abroad to support the hunger strike of Butzbach prisoners’ by
- sending letters to GG/BO spokesperson in Butzbach prison Jürgen Rößner (Jürgen Rößner / GG/BO-Sprecher JVA Butzbach / Kleeberger Str. 23 / 35510 Butzbach / Germany)
- making known the hunger strike in their cities and prisons
- doing actions of solidarity and sending us pictures of those
- strengthening your own struggles against exploitation and incarceration
GG/BO solidarity group Jena