“We will fight this to the bitter end,” Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) Free State secretary Rankele Msinto said. The union would refer the dismissals to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration.
G4S, the prison management company, said the prison was running smoothly despite the staff strike action and dismissals.
The company was awarded a 25-year contract to run the Mangaung Correctional Centre on behalf of the department of correctional services in 2000.
G4S Africa head Andy Baker said the company had moved some of its outside staff into the prison to help with operations. “It’s our better trained security staff from offices in other parts of the business.”
Baker said the company had sufficient staff not on strike to run the prison, which houses more than 2000 inmates. On Monday, prison management had to deal with a prisoner riot which broke out in some sections.
“We have exceptional response teams for such situations, which brought the riot under control within 30 minutes,” Baker said earlier.
The prisoners burned blankets, broke toilets and windows, and damaged some 40 porcelain basins they wanted to use as projectiles.
One man was taken to hospital afterwards. On Thursday, Baker said the company had advertised specific positions at the prison on Wednesday afternoon.
“We have already received hundreds of applications.” Striking workers ignored an ultimatum to drop their illegal action and return to work by 1.30pm on Wednesday.
Some striking workers had indicated they would appeal their dismissals at the company on the grounds of being intimidated.
Baker said such cases would be judged on merit. He said the dismissed workers would be paid for the days worked in September.