chain gangAccording to this article in the The Telegraph, Council workers are furious their regular jobs - including cemetery maintenance - are increasingly being farmed out to convicted criminals so councils can save money. Several councils throughout the state have admitted the chain gangs - prisoners on work release programs - are doing jobs previously undertaken by paid council staff.

Park and building maintenance, road repairs and other odd jobs are all being done by convicted criminals. Local Government Minister Don Page told The Sunday Telegraph he would look into the practice after workers claimed it was "tantamount to scab labour".

A Bathurst council spokesman said prisoners did odd jobs including lawn mowing and maintenance at cemeteries and parks - work that would otherwise be done by council staff.

Tamworth Council also uses prison labour to do jobs that its staff would otherwise do. A spokeswoman said if the council didn't use prisoners they would pay staff to do it, but it would "take longer to do it".

Sydney's Auburn Council has also flagged expanding the program in its area, which a recent financial report reveals has provided $500,000 worth of free work in the past four years.

General manager John Burgess said "where possible" he would like to expand the program, insisting it would not take jobs from council workers. "To be perfectly clear, if we can't get (prisoners) to do the work then we won't do the work," he said.