Friday 18 October, 2019

Opposition heading to court over classification of security guards

The parliamentary Opposition has served notice that it is heading to court as it seeks to determine whether security guards are workers or private contractors. 

This was revealed on Tuesday by Opposition Spokesman on Labour Horace Dalley, who was making his contribution to the 2018/19 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives.

Dalley, a former Minister of Labour, lamented that the more than 27,000 registered security guards in Jamaica have for a long time been treated unfairly by employers who have classified them as private contractors.

The Member of Parliament for Northern Clarendon noted that, with the classification, security guards are denied certain benefits.  

"There are approximately 27,000 to 30,000 registered guards in Jamaica. his group of workers who we see every day, every night performing their duties in thousands of locations all over Jamaica, have no maternity (leave), no pension, no time-off, no vacation leave, and in fact, if they take off a day to go to their child's school, they lose the time. If they take off a day to go and visit their family in the hospital, they lose the time," Dalley stated. 

He charged that this should not be happening in 2018 in Jamaica. 

Dalley also noted that security guards are the only group of workers in Jamaica that do not have a national association. 

"The Opposition will be going to court to seek a declaratory judgement to determine whether our security guards are contractors or workers. This group of workers cannot continue to suffer any longer and the People's National Party pledge to resolve this issue once and for all," Dalley declared. 

He told the House that there has been a move by some security guards to form a national lobby group. He said if they are successful, the Opposition would "welcome it as a legitimate entity representing the interest of the guards." 

In recent times, concerns have been raised about the terms and conditions under which a growing number of Jamaican workers are being employed as private contractors. Former Prime Minister PJ Patterson weighed in on the matter recently when he described the practice as the “colourable device” of contract labourers who are really employees but who are denied certain benefits.

He also said the development had weakened the trade union movement.

Patterson was addressing the inaugural Hugh Lawson Shearer Trade Union Institute’s distinguished lecture at the regional headquarters of the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus in May.

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