Low salaries paid to security guards attributed to underbidding by companies
Underbidding by some private security companies in Barbados is contributing to low wages and salaries in the sector.
It is also leading to guards having to work as many as 12 hours per shift to earn a decent pay at the end of the week.
These were some of the concerns raised by panellists and audience members during a discussion on The Role Of Industrial Relations in the Professionalisation of Security Practice at the Barbados Coalition of Service Industries’ office in Harbour Industrial Park, the City.
Chairman of the Caribbean Association of Security Professionals (CASP), Oral Reid, said that there were cases where companies, in an attempt to win security contracts, underbid their competitors but when faced with the expenses associated with actually doing the job, did not had adequate funds.
He said this was leading to those companies then paying low wages to their workers.
“Many private security officers are paid poor wages and work under poor conditions. This is believed to contribute in part to evidence of low self-esteem among many security officers,” Reid said.
“It has also been noted that few security officers stay employed at any one company for long periods. This results in a security industry of inexperienced, poorly trained and highly disengaged security workers. The majority of such officers are motivated by the need to secure better wages to cope with their familial obligations and other financial needs.”
Reid suggested that rather than private security companies going after contracts on their own, and undercutting each other, the local chapter of CASP should bargain for contracts on their behalf.
The CASP chairman, along with panellists Ed Bushell, an industrial relations consultant; Executive Director of the Barbados Employers’ Confederation (BEC) Tony Walcott; and General Secretary of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB), Dennis De Peiza also expressed concern about untrained individuals being hired as security guards.
“I am here to tell you that every problem that you have in your organisation now is a recruitment problem. Every problem you have started the day you brought that person on. I know how it happened; you wanted a warm body . . . That is where you are getting into problems. Everything hinges on that decision. Make sure you invest the time to recruit people who are suitable for the position. Do not worry about warm bodies, because they become hot bodies after a while and cause you a lot of problems after a while,” Bushell said.
Walcott urged managers of security companies to exercise great care in their recruitment practices.
If they did not take the time to screen prospective recruits, he said, they were “asking for trouble”.
De Peiza further contended that the professionalisation of the security sector calls for the establishment of standards.
“People have to have proper conditions of service. We have to have continuous training for persons we engage. People who are not trained will not produce quality service,” he pointed out.
Reid said that financial institutions and the hospitality industry, in particular, should insist on engaging workers that can produce evidence of training in accordance with acceptable security occupational standards.
“It is not good enough just to deploy persons who look good in uniform but know nothing about the rules or regulations of the organisation where they are deployed,” said the former senior police officer.
“They must be capable of making a decision on whether a situation with which they are confronted is criminal in nature and what action should be taken. They should also be aware of their organisation’s Use of Force Policy to mitigate or inform their reaction to difficult situations.”