More than a year after threatening to take action if outstanding issues were not addressed, security officers at G4S Secure Solutions (Barbados) Ltd followed through on that promise.
Contending their employer was taking advantage of them, scores of workers went on strike today at the security company’s Brighton, Black Rock headquarters.
The workers said longstanding grievances such as a raise in pay and improved working conditions had still not been addressed.
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Last October, following an over two-hour, closed-door meeting at Solidarity House, security officers gave their employer an ultimatum to fix the problems or face strike action.
At the time the major bones of contention were the fact that workers had not received a pay hike in over six years and that they were being paid less than the negotiated wage between the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) and the company.
Advisor to the BWU, Sir Roy Trotman, subsequently drew the matter to the attention of Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Colin Jordan.
The matter is said to be before the Labour Department.
However, security officer at G4S Asin Browne told members of the media that it was “time enough” and called on all G4S employees to join the strike.
“I wanna encourage every G4S officer out there who think they are not in the union or are in the union and are afraid that they will lose their job, it’s not going to happen and I am asking every one of you to come out in numbers so that we can fight for our rights.
“It has been long enough and there has been too much victimization happening to us throughout the years. We are fighting for our rights; proper holiday pay. If we are working for 60 hours we have no right getting pay 40 hours a week. We had no right being home all three weeks and no holiday pay aint come to us yet because we have families. We are not getting proper uniform to work in on time… There are so many problems we are going through at G4S,” Browne said, while pointing out that no meetings were being held for workers to vent their frustrations.
He also alleged that shift leaders were working as supervisors and not getting paid for doing so.
Browne said he was also disappointed that the BWU had not found a solution to the situation.
“Working 12 hours on your foot ain’t easy, that’s the truth, it ain’t easy,” another female security officer added.
Industrial relations officer at the BWU, Shakeda Williams was on hand to support the workers.
She maintained that security officers risked their lives everyday and ought to be treated better.
She said general secretary of the BWU Toni Moore, had made it a priority to fight for workers and lobby for workers in this time, particularly those in the security industry, in the domestic worker industry and in the gas station service industry.
“G4S workers are out here today with saddened hearts. They are frustrated and they believe it is time that not only do they have improved conditions that they have been fighting for, but that both the company and the Barbadian society recognize the value that security officers at all levels have provided to the economy of Barbados and to the growth and productivity of the company which they all represent,” Williams said.
“The workers here are crying out for increases. They are crying out for improved conditions…They want new uniforms. They want improved ergonomics within the huts that some of them reside in throughout their entire day of work. They want shorter hours for more salary and this is a cry not only at the domestic level but a cry across the globe. These workers are ones that are often missed and have unfortunately been covered with a veil and it is time that we remove that veil so that the public can know the value that they have.”
Efforts to contact management at G4S Secure Solutions (Barbados) Ltd for comment proved unsuccessful up to press time.