Union boss Morrison urges security guards to resist pressure to ink new deal
VINCENT MORRISON, president of the Union of Clerical, Administrative and Supervisory Employees (UCASE), is urging the island’s industrial security guards not to sign contracts given to them by their respective companies, even as the deadline for the Government-ordered transition looms.
In a Gleaner interview late yesterday, Morrison said that guards are being forced by some companies to sign new contracts, which would cause them to “forfeit” their rights and benefit.
“The company cannot say those who don’t sign that they’re not going to get any duty. I hear the guards are being threatened … . That is totally wrong. The guards cannot sign a document that is flawed and not in their favour,” Morrison charged.
“It is very dangerous for the company or companies to be forcing the guards to sign a document that says that they are employees from the first of April. Don’t sign!” he added.
He warned that if any company victimises guards as a result of them not signing, “at the right time”, the issue will be dealt with.
Morrison declined to confirm if litigation would come into play.
Dozens of security guards have voiced concerns that one-year contracts with a three-month probationary period were being offered to them, despite last September’s Supreme Court landmark ruling.
The guards have expressed concern that they stand to lose benefits that are due to them if they sign. They would also be compelled to drop any case they have against the company.
The court ruled that security guards who are engaged by Marksman Limited are employees and not contract workers.
The ruling stemmed from claims brought by the National Housing Trust (NHT), which was seeking to recoup unpaid sums from security companies, which they should have handed over on behalf of their workers.
As a result, the Government said that effective April 1, guards working for scores of security firms that have contracts with its ministries, departments and agencies would be recognised as employees in keeping with the court ruling.
The Government has more than 500 contracts for security services with several firms.
Further, the Government said that it would terminate its contracts with security companies that do not comply.
The Gleaner learnt that scores of security guards have, in the last few weeks, resigned from their positions or have not turned up for work.
On Monday, Lieutenant Commander George Overton, president of the Jamaica Society for Industrial Security, told The Gleaner that this is because “the industry is going through the transition from independent contractors to employer/employee relationship”.
He said he could not give a definitive figure for the number of guards who have resigned across the industry.