Sunday 26 May, 2019

VIDEO: Top security bosses walk wide of ‘compromising’ competitors

George Overton

George Overton

Days after a Loop News probe revealed some of the inhumane conditions that some security guards are forced to operate under, a number of top-level industry players have come forward to disclose more about how some unregistered security companies are compromising the industry.

Describing what many of the unregistered organisation are doing as a scheme that is essentially promoting modern-day slavery, the top industry figures said in addition to poor working conditions for some guards, the owners of many of the unregistered companies are bilking unsuspecting guards of millions of dollars annually.

“The companies are robbing the guards of millions of dollars per year, as they are paying many of them way below the minimum wage,” said George Overton, President of the Jamaica Society of Industrial Security (JSIS).

The JSIS represents 25 security firms which collectively make up some 80 per cent of the industry.

According to the JSIS member, the current minimum rate that security guards should be paid is $286 per hour, and anything below that rate reflects underpayment.

The senior industry figures also said many prominent companies have been supporting unorthodox business practices by unregistered security companies.

“These companies are awarding contracts to the very same unregistered entities that are committing a number of breaches in the industry,” said Overton.

“What the companies are doing is they are using these security companies that are offering their services at a much cheaper rate, but the quality of the service is not at a professional standard,” he elaborated.

 

Several of the guards who spoke to Loop News during the probe, confirmed that they were getting paid way below the rate that Overton outlined as the minimum.

According to Overton, some of what are taking place within the industrial security industry present a collective cause for concern.

“We are aware of some of the issues plaguing the industry, and we believe the matter needs to be addressed very quickly,” said Overton.

Another top-level figure in the security industry provided even more information.

“I know for a fact that owners of prominent companies are offering contracts to these security companies for the mere fact that they offer cheaper rates than the more established organisations,” said the senior executive of a registered security company.

Some owners of some of the more established entities in the sector said it was never their intention to charge particular rates, but explained to Loop News that they have no other choice but to offer their services at particular rates to offset the expenses that come with running their businesses at professional levels.

The owner of one front-line security company, who asked not to be named, said for years the question of compromised standards in sections of the sector have been raised, butthey are yet to be addressed.

The Loop probe over the weekend disclosed that owners of some security companies, in a bid to earn quick money, are circumventing things like training guidelines and background checks of many of the persons who they employ, using the approach as a means to pay rock-bottom wages to individuals who are afraid to raise an alarm about their working conditions.

The probe found that some security companies are using methods to secure workers who, because of their checkered past, or lack of the normally required credentials, are willing to accept below standard wages and benefits because they fear that if they speak out, they could be fired, and would have a difficult time securing employment elsewhere.

Loop News, in an undercover investigation, managed to speak to some security guards from at least four of the supposedly rogue companies, and the revelations have been shocking.

Security guards have told stories of companies just traveling on the roads and providing uniforms to anyone who is willing to work for the entities, and have even placed them at locations with little or no training.

In such cases, many of the security guards are sometimes made to work for up to 20-hour shifts without relief.

The security guards have even been made to work for months without pay, and if they raise an alarm, they are threatened and told that they would be fired, the probe revealed.

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