By Fatima Mohammed
President of the Jamaica Society for Industrial Security (JSIS) Lieutenant Commander George Overton announced that the group has sought intervention from the Ministry of Labour and Social Security over the unfair treatment of security guards across the island who are illegally being underpaid.
Speaking at the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee meeting on 17th April 2019, Overton said preliminary investigations have found various companies in breach of security guard contracts.
These investigations brought to light the ordeals faced by security guards not fully receiving their laundry allowance. This allowance, according to contract, is to be paid for each hour spent on duty by the guard. Other companies have been found to withhold the allowance completely.
“What we have found through our investigations is that there are companies that will be compliant on the actual wage, but they are not compliant on the allowances. So, we have companies that will cap the laundry allowance which is supposed to be paid for every hour worth. They will cap it for 80 hours while the security officer may have worked for 115 hours or more. On the extreme end of it, we have companies that pay absolutely no allowance. In that case the security officers are being denied up to 175,000 dollars a year,” he said.
Further, Overton mentioned that companies are utilizing illegal means to recruit and send security guards into the market.
“The society is extremely concerned about the viability of the private security industry in Jamaica. This industry has 22,000 plus persons engaged in the delivery of security services in Jamaica. The industry today, in my opinion, is on a race to the bottom. The purchasers of security guards are no longer competing on quality. It is all driven by price. Companies have used illegal means, creative means, and unethical means to reduce their cost so they can send guards into market with a lesser cost,” he said.
Those unethical cost saving efforts according to Overton are detrimental to the security guards because they go against the legally published national minimum wage.
“If we don’t ensure that there is compliance across the industry then the industry in itself is going to continue on this race to the bottom. So, it is out of concern for the workers in this security industry, and out of concern for the viability of the private security industry that we have brought this complaint so far,” he continued.
JSIS is mandated to promote best practices and good order for the viability of the private security industry in Jamaica.