‘They are treating us like regular security guards’
– US Embassy guards stage sick-out following fallout over wage negotiations
Kingston, Jamaica – Over 60 diplomatic security guards employed at the US Embassy in Kingston staged a sick-out on Tuesday due to a fallout over stalled wage negotiations. The Union of Clerical Administrative and Supervisory Employees, during a meeting on Monday night, rejected a wage offer from the G4S Guardsman joint venture.
Guardsman Group proposed a 10 per cent increase in the first year, zero per cent in the second, and five per cent each over the remaining three years.
Observer Online understands that during Monday’s meeting, the offer for the second year was adjusted to a lump sum payment of $150,000, a move deemed unacceptable by the security guards.
In an interview with one of the security guards employed at the US Embassy, Observer Online learned that employees are seeking a better package. They expressed that the offer made on Monday does not take into consideration the country’s inflation rates.
“Right now, we are on location at the Embassy, and we have taken industrial action based on a stall in negotiations we have been having over the past few months,” the guard, who requested anonymity, said.
“Guardsman does not want to honour what is owed to us. We have gone to meetings with them to negotiate better health and pay packages, but they do not want to meet our demands. That’s what has led to the sick-out. We are lobbying for a pay increase, better pay packages, travel allowance, and stuff like that. Everything that we are negotiating for is reasonable and within our constitutional rights,” he said.
The guard told Observer Online that as diplomatic officers, they deserve a package that separates them from regular security officers. He expressed that their job exposes them to greater dangers than usual and thus they should be compensated accordingly.
“We are diplomatic officers, and they are treating us like regular security guards. The risks that we are accustomed to regular officers are not exposed to that. Based on our duties, we detailed what our expectations are, and they have failed to meet those,” he said. “The Prime Minister granted a minimum wage increase for security officers, and they don’t want to honour that. Per fortnight right now, we get paid roughly 80,000 dollars, and currently, all the other security guards are in line with us, and we have more responsibilities than everybody else.”
The guard said they requested a 25 per cent increase in wages but were offered a 10 per cent increase in year one of the offer and zero increase in the second year, followed by five per cent in the third, fourth, and fifth years of the contract. He said the latter is inadequate and shared that he and his colleagues are prepared to continue industrial action until their demands are met.
Observer Online understands that the Union of Clerical, Administrative, and Supervisory Employees (UCASE) and the G4S Guardsman joint venture have set a meeting for later today to try to come to an agreement on the matter.
President of UCASE, Vincent Morrison, told Observer Online last month that having won bargaining rights for and on behalf of over 210 security officers assigned to the US Embassy in Kingston, they have reached a stalemate in their relatively new level of negotiating.
At the time, Morrison warned that the security officers were extremely restive and UCASE, through the union, informed Guardsman that the restiveness among the security officers could develop into industrial action.
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