Labour Ministry Protecting Security Guards

Jamaica News: Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Shahine Robinson, says the Ministry has been monitoring the situation concerning the status and entitlements of security guards.

Making her contribution to the 2019/20 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on July 9, the Minister noted that over the years, several complaints of companies failing to pay various entitlements have been brought to the Ministry’s attention.

“In response to those complaints, Officers in the Ministry seek to arrive at a settlement between the security guards and the companies. Where there is no settlement, those cases are referred to the Courts,” Mrs. Robinson said.

“We wish to report that in most of those instances, the decisions have been in favour of security guards. We have been collaborating with the Private Security Regulation Authority to ensure that companies observe labour laws and the standards for decent work,” she added.

The Minister noted that the Ministry and the Private Security Regulation Authority will undertake initiatives to strengthen enforcement capabilities and efficiencies in both entities.

She informed that the Ministry is moving to prosecute companies that are in breach of the labour laws, adding that since June of this year, five companies have been referred to the Ministry’s Legal Division for prosecution.

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“It is our intention that all companies flouting the law will eventually be held accountable. This Ministry is sending a warning to all security companies that if you breach the law, you will face the consequences,” Mrs. Robinson said.

In addition, she said that notwithstanding previous initiatives, as well as those now under way, she will be placing the matter of the status and work arrangements of security guards before a Joint Select Committee of the Parliament later this financial year.

“This will allow the issues affecting security guards to be ventilated and deliberated through open and transparent public discourse. This Minister of Labour is committed to a resolution of this important issue once and for all,” she emphasised.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Robinson said the Ministry has been paying careful attention to the discussions surrounding contract work.

She noted that like the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Ministry recognises that there are often benefits associated with fixed-term contract employment.

These arrangements, she said, considered to be a form of non-standard work, have become increasingly popular in newly established positions and emerging occupations.

“They often provide flexibility to enterprises, allowing them to respond to various operational changes and demands. In the right situations, contract work also provides benefits to workers. It is common knowledge that certain workers opt for fixed-term contracts for reasons which include attractive gratuity payments. The Ministry, therefore, recognises that not all contract work is undesirable,” Mrs. Robinson said.

The problem, she noted, arises where contractual arrangements are used as a ploy to remove from workers certain statutory rights, entitlements and protection prescribed by law.

“A common example is where a contract may seek to disguise the employer-employee relationships as a means of denying a worker vacation and maternity leave or to relieve the employer of obligations to workers, such as healthcare and pensions. It is in these types of circumstances that contract work is considered to be precarious and oppressive,” the Minister said.

“Where the Ministry becomes aware of these situations, every effort is made to assist these workers to obtain the entitlements due to them under the law by referring the matter to the Courts or to the Industrial Disputes Tribunal. Additionally, my enforcement powers as the Minister of Labour under several labour legislation, have been utilised to bring delinquent employers in compliance with the law,” she added.

Mrs. Robinson said the Ministry is concerned with the trend of precariousness in contract employment, noting that “we also find troubling global reports which point to underinvestment in training, innovation and lowered productivity associated with these forms of contractual arrangements”.

“In this regard, the Ministry is prepared to examine good practices internationally and to engage tripartite discussions with a view of carving out an appropriate national response, balancing the interests of both employers and employees,” she said.


Source: JIS News

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