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Security Officers fight exploitation by multinational corporations

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Ned K.

The private security services industry has become a growth industry in the 21st century following the events of September 2001 in New York city with the destruction of the twin towers.

According to the Australian Institute of Criminology there are over 110,000 licensed security officers in Australia, most employed by contract security companies. Security officers are visible to the public at sports stadiums and concerts where they are called "crowd controllers", railway stations, shopping malls, airports, city office towers, defence bases, asylum seeker detention centres and now form part of rapid response teams in cases of emergencies in most public hospitals. Many of these jobs are the result of the privatisation of services by state and federal governments.

Who are the Security Officers?
Security officers are easily identified by their uniforms with a company brand name on their sleeve or shirt pocket. In fact, they have become brand ambassadors for their employers in a highly competitive, unregulated industry.
The security officer workforce thirty years ago mainly consisted of middle-aged males thrown on the scrap heap by other industries where they worked when younger.
Nowadays the security industry has more younger workers, both male and female, who have come into the industry because they need full time work and there are less jobs in other industries where they would prefer to work. There are also more new migrant workers in the industry.
Wage theft and wage swindle par for the course
Many of them find themselves working for sub-contractors of larger security companies performing work in poor conditions with no guaranteed hours and below award minimum rates, especially when working shift work and weekends. These security officers' plight is obscured from the public eye because they wear the uniforms of the principle contractor, not their sub-contracting employer. The line between direct employment by a major security company and sub-contracted security officers is blurred. The very presence of the sub-contracting entity is a divide and conquer strategy by the major security contractors and a not so subtle reminder to their employees that there are other workers ready to step in if the directly employed employees step out of line.
Most directly employed security officers of the major contractors are paid the minimum award rate, so their sub-contractors pay their employees even less in order to make profit. Due to the fierce competition to win contracts, even the supposedly "responsible" major contractors swindle their employees by paying them an all up flat rate which pays more than the base day rate under the Award, but nowhere near compensates security officers who mainly work unsociable hours due to the nature of the work.
Another way of wage swindling common in the industry is deeming weekend work as overtime shifts even if weekend shifts fall at the beginning or in the middle of a roster cycle.
Who benefits?
The beneficiaries of the exploitation of security officers are the property owners who demand tight security for their property but treat security officers like second class workers with respect to wages in particular. The worst offenders in this regard are government departments including public hospitals, public transport and cultural centres such as art galleries and museums. Often security officers are the only group of workers on these sites who do not get paid the same or similar rates of pay as directly employed government workers.
The other beneficiaries of the exploitation of security officers are their employers.
The biggest employers in the industry are ISS, MSS, Wilson Security, Securecorp, Secom, SNP and Spotless. What do all these companies have in common? They are all owned or controlled by multinational corporations. They control more than 50% of the security industry market in Australia.
* Wilson Security's claim to fame is that its two director brothers, Thomas and Raymond Kwok, were charged with bribing a Hong Kong Government official in July 2012. They are one of the biggest security companies in the Asia Pacific region.
* Secom Security is Japanese owned and operates in Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, UK, NZ, China, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore , Indonesia and Australia with assets of over $20 billion and employs 53,000 people world wide.
* Securecorp is owned by Guardforce Group of the UK and linked to the China Security & Fire Co Ltd
* MSS is owned by Security and Intelligence Services of India and is in partnership with Spanish owned armoured vehicle security company Prosegur.
*SNP who have the contract at Sydney airport were recently bought by Singapore's largest security company Certis Cisco and employs 34,000 people.
* ISS Group specialises in aviation security in Australia and is listed on the Danish stock exchange. It is one of the largest facilities management companies in the world with 488,946 employees and revenue of $17 billion per year.
* Spotless. Originally a New Zealand owned company, it is now owned by a private equity company in the UK and through private public partnership venture, is part operator of the new Royal Adelaide Hospital for the next 30 years. It set up its own branded security company Tech-Guard a few years ago to focus on shopping centre and sporting event security services such as football stadiums.
It is a little publicised fact that when politicians scream to the rooftops about the danger of terrorism inspired by overseas interests that the very organizations controlling security of property and citizens in Australia are owned by overseas interests! And wealthy interests at that!
This is not lost on security officers, many of whom are joining their union, United Voice, and developing industry wide strategies to improve their job security and pay and conditions.
Security officers more than most groups of workers have an objective interest in supporting the Change the Rules campaign in so far as it aims to win industry wide bargaining rights for service sector workers.


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