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JSIS pleased government investigating security guard wage compliance

0 | 2019-04-23 12:14:00

After almost four months of waiting, the Jamaica Society for Industrial Security (JSIS) is pleased that the government has started an investigation into the minimum wage compliance issue in the country’s private security sector.
The society received an audience with the Parliament's Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) at Gordon House on Wednesday, April 17, 2019, where it made its case to the committee and heard first-hand the preliminary findings of the Ministry of Labour.
“The JSIS is pleased that the Ministry of Labour has started investigating the issue of non-compliance with the national minimum wage for security officers among some security companies contracted by government agencies,” said JSIS President Lieutenant Commander George Overton.
The body, which represents 28 security companies or approximately 60 percent of the local private security sector, wrote to the Ministry of Labour in December 2018, calling its attention to security firms’ cheating its security guards out of their wages. According to the JSIS’ findings, some private security companies underpay their security guards by about $175,000 per annum.
Speaking to the PAAC on Wednesday, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour Collette Roberts-Risden, said the ministry conducted preliminary investigations into 14 security firms and found that there was truth to the JSIS’s claim.
“Based on the discussion and what was said by [Commander] Overton, our report certainly validates what he said, where we reported that by and large companies do pay the single rate, but they have not been paying the overtime rate,” she said.
However, while gratified that action is being taken, Commander Overton expressed concern about what he describes as the “ideal” the Ministry of Labour is using to measure compliance across the sector.
“The Ministry of Labour is conducting their audit on the ideal that the relationship between the company and the guards is that of an employer-employee. The industry has not operated in that relationship since 1985,” he said. “The independent contractor arrangement is what the industry operates under, and therefore, the audit will probably find the entire industry not compliant with the ideal of the ministry—a discussion that has been on and off with the government for the past 20 years with no resolution.”

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