Kangalee: Why Private Security Industry Bill will cement exploitation of workers—and why you should care

“[…] One year later, the 1995 minimum wage order removed the provisions for sick leave, vacation leave and the provision of uniforms that the 1994 order contained [for security workers].

“[…] Due to this removal, security companies are denying their employees the benefits of sick leave and vacation leave that other workers enjoy and are actually requiring workers to buy uniforms which they have to return when they leave employment…”

The following Letter to the Editor on the supposed exploitation of security workers and the potential threat posed by The Private Security Industry Bill, 2022 was submitted to Wired868 by Gerry Kangalee of Rambert Village:

Photo: A security guard on the job.

It is common knowledge that there is a minimum wage in T&T. The minimum wage is legislated through the Minimum Wage Act 35 of 1976 as amended by 11 of 2000 and periodically adjusted through the issuance of minimum wage orders.

Setting the minimum wage is not all that is covered in the legislation. It also makes orders for terms and conditions of work that apply to shop assistants, household assistants, workers in the catering industry and security industry workers.

These terms, as spelt out in the minimum wage orders, pertain to, among other things: hours of work, overtime, sick leave and vacation leave. 

The 1994 minimum wage order as applied to security industry employees included the following:

7. (1) A full-time employee shall be entitled to vacation leave of fourteen calendar days annually with pay on completion of twelve months service from the date of his employment, subject to his having worked a minimum of two hundred and twenty days within that period.

8. (1) An employee shall be entitled to sick leave of fourteen working days annually with pay subject to

(a) his being continuously employed with the security organization for a period of at least six months; and

(b) his production of a medical certificate in respect of any period of illness in excess of two days.

10. A security organization shall be responsible for providing an unprecepted security guard with—(a) uniforms consisting of five shirts, two pairs of trousers and one pair of boots per annum; and (b) such equipment as he is required to use in the performance of his duties.

Photo: A joint trade union demonstration.
(Copyright Trinidad Guardian)

One year later, the 1995 minimum wage order removed the provisions for sick leave, vacation leave and the provision of uniforms that the 1994 order contained. Security employees were thrown into the bamboo and, today, enjoy much less legislative protection than other workers.

Due to this removal, security companies are denying their employees the benefits of sick leave and vacation leave that other workers enjoy and are actually requiring workers to buy uniforms which they have to return when they leave employment.

The fastest growing sector of the workforce is in the security industry. These workers are denied the benefits other workers enjoy. The Estate Police Association (EPA) is mandated by law to only represent precepted estate constables and. as we shall see in another article, the discrimination and exploitation will be intensified if The Private Security Industry Bill, 2022 is enacted into law. 

Photo: Amalgamated Security director Dr Michael Aboud.

The bill has already been laid in the Senate. If it is not withdrawn the security industry will make the wild west look like a joke.

Not satisfied with having security industry employees among the working very-poor, the ruling elites are increasing the pressure on all working people through wage freezes, mass retrenchment, and attacks on National Insurance Benefits. 

Security firms are the greatest offenders when it comes to deducting NIS contributions and pocketing it.

The situation with security employees is part and parcel of the attack on working people’s benefits and their ability to enjoy a decent standard of living in a fragile economy which is in a state of accelerated collapse.

Photo: MTS security guards have a light moment.

Government policy, according to the Prime Minister, is to make the rich richer. The policy of privatisation, downsizing of the public sector, wage suppression, removal of subsidies, lack of price control, dismantling of the industrial sector is straight from the handbook of the international financial agencies.

TSTT has already gotten rid of its estate police department, setting the stage for TTEC, WASA, CDA, NIPDEC, Central Bank, NP, PLIPDECO Lake Asphalt, the Port, MTS and the Airport to trump and follow suit. 

Amalgamated Security is already in Petrotrin and TSTT and is poised to reap a harvest when the private security industry bill is enacted—that is, if we allow it!

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