Serco and G4S can’t believe their luck in a brave new world

Britain’s future is a privatised world of guards managing and monitoring “undesirables”. Australia and much of the world is following suit. Company G4S may have lost a contract to remove asylum seekers from Britain but its employees will inevitably be working elsewhere soon, possibly doing this to people:

A Zimbabwean asylum seeker whose deportation from Britain was halted after his wrist was broken while he was being restrained by security guards is to be flown back to Africa tomorrow on a British Airways plane.

Khu Mlotshwa, 31, claims he was assaulted by security guards in June when the UK Border Agency first attempted to deport him from Britain.

During the struggle on the Virgin Airways flight, Mr Mlotshwa, who was handcuffed and wearing leg locks, alleges he was punched and kicked by guards and had his wrist twisted back.

A Home Office investigation has now exonerated the two G4S security officers – even though one of the guards can be heard on CCTV saying that Mr Mlotshwa “put up a good fight”.

Earlier this month Jimmy Mubenga, 46, an asylum seeker from Angola, died when he was being deported by G4S guards from the UK. That death is being investigated by Scotland Yard, who have arrested three G4S guards.

Mr Mlotshwa now says he is terrified of being forcibly removed from the UK again. “It was a terrible and frightening experience which I fear will be repeated tomorrow,” he told The Independent. “These escorts are evil, they are really evil. They do these things to you and then the whole thing is covered up so that they get away with it.”

Meanwhile, another multinational making money from the imprisonment of people, Serco, is forced to take stock (via the Financial Times):

Serco has withdrawn a demand for a 2.5 cent “cash rebate” from its leading suppliers and apologised unreservedly to them after the government ordered it to explain its actions.

The outsourcing company, which runs prisons, nuclear facilities, schools and ports for the government, had written to its 193 largest suppliers demanding that they make the payments or risk losing future contracts, in an effort to meet the coalition’s request for multimillion-pound savings on procurement contracts.

But the decision angered Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister in charge of the government’s efficiency drive, who wrote to Serco seeking an explanation of the action.

Mr Maude believed he had received an undertaking from Chris Hyman, Serco’s chief executive, that the savings it would put forward would not come from suppliers’ payments. The government wants smaller companies to get a bigger share of government business.

Serco said on Monday that it had now told the Cabinet Office that its most recent offer of savings to the government would not result in any of the cost saving programme being passed on to suppliers.

The company said in a statement that it had a continuing procurement process with its supply chain partners, which has been underway for more than five years.

“More recently we have also been working with the Cabinet Office as part of their efficiency programme, which has involved discussions with our leading suppliers. As a result our plans evolved and we decided not to seek or accept any contributions from our suppliers, who had recently received letters asking for rebates.

“As a company that values our relationships with all our supply chain partners, large and small, we deeply regret this action and apologise unreservedly to them for the concern that this has caused. We are now communicating this to our supply chain partners and retracting the letters.”

Mr Maude has been pressing the government’s biggest contractors to accept lower margins to help reduce the budget deficit, but to date only a handful have signed agreements to renew existing contracts. Serco has yet to finalise a deal.

A letter was leaked to the Sunday Telegraph, which quoted one supplier who received the demand as saying it was “brutal” and “absolutely appalling”.

In the letter, Andrew Jenner, Serco’s finance director, said the “cash contribution” was required to meet the Cabinet Office’s demands to cut Whitehall expenditure. He said Mr Hyman had given a “personal commitment” to the Cabinet Office that Serco and its supply chain would provide “total support” to the plan to save …£800m from central government procurement this year.

The letter said: “I am asking you to offer us a rebate of 2.5 per cent [exclusive of VAT] on Serco’s full-year spend with you for the 2010 calendar year in the form of a credit note. Like the government, we are looking to determine who our real partners are that we can rely upon. Your response will no doubt indicate your commitment to our partnership but will also be something I will seriously consider in our working relationship as Serco continues to grow.”

Text and images ©2023 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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