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Private security agencies offering their services to the different Ministries and Departments of the Jamaican Government have been flouting rules left, right and centre. The matter has taken a turn for the worse since these companies have stonewalled efforts at digging deeper into their affairs. It has been reported that there are, in all, 31 security services companies working on contracts issued by the Government’s Ministries, Departments, and Agencies; referred to as MDAs. It appears that most of them have been found to be engaged in unfair practices in respect of their employees who are posted as security guards.
Names of Offending Security Companies Out
Details have emerged from a report submitted by the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation to the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) of Parliament. This is an oversight committee that comprises of lawmakers and attached to each of the Ministries. This particular report lists the names of the agencies as MICA Security, Eliteguard Services, Action Security, MZ Holdings Security, Comfort Security, Border Security, and Modern Investigation. These companies have either not allowed the inspectors to enter their premises to gather information or have denied access to their records to check if the complaints are true. In addition, three of the seven listed above have not even gotten their companies registered with the Private Security Regulation Authority, the governing body that regulates the security agencies in Jamaica.
Different Types of Irregularities Found
Across the 31 contracted security firms, there are allegations that they are not making payments to their female employees for maternity leave to which they are entitled. Similarly, non-compliance to the rules were found in honouring the employers’ commitments to the employees for sick leave and vacation leave payments.
On the wages front too, there were serious defaults reported. Non-payment of the minimum wage of $242.50 per hour and overtime wages at the prescribed rate were some of the complaints reported. These were to be cross-verified from the internal records being maintained by these security agencies, but they have deliberately blocked the labour officials from accessing their books and records.
Case for Prosecution
The members of the PAAC can only be assumed to have been quite agitated and encouraged the MDAs to take immediate action. They said the best way to make these security agencies fall in line is to stop their payments and force them to come to the department. There were also suggestions that prosecution be initiated against them for violations of the labour laws.