An Alliance councillor says security company G4S is “hanging their employees out to dry” in relation to staff who guard PSNI stations across Northern Ireland.
Lisburn and Castlereagh councillor Martin Gregg approached the private security contractor after an employee contacted him with a litany of concerns about pay and conditions.
The News Letter ran a series of reports last year highlighting similar concerns.
Mr Gregg said he contacted G4S about “alleged breaches” of employment law and conditions. He added: “Despite repeated pleas from employees, they are regularly left with little or no support, regularly left with no scheduled breaks and regularly left working beyond their shift as the next shift fails to show.” He said;-
• Guards don’t have safe seats for 12 hours shifts
• Are entitled to at least 20 minute breaks every six hours
• Are not able to take toilet breaks for lack of cover
• And are not paid overtime when waiting beyond their 12 hours until cover arrives
“This failing to pay for actual hours worked drops many of them below the national minimum wage,” he said. However, they are still expected to come into work at 6pm to cover their next shift. This is “a clear breach” of the EU Working Time Directive, which says employees cannot work longer than 13 hours and must have 11 consecutive hours rest between shifts, he added.
“G4S appear to be just hanging their employees out to dry. I’m also disappointed that the PSNI do not seem to be holding their contractor to account.”
A G4S guard and station enquiry officer who previously raised concerns with the News Letter confirmed Mr Gregg’s concerns.
David Harris, Account Director for G4S Secure Solutions reviewed the exchange between Mr Gregg and
responded to Mr Gregg that all employees receive above the National Living Wage and company policy is that “all hours worked are paid”.
Any pay related queries are addressed “in a timely manner” through an online portal and pay hotline, he said.
G4S have teams of “mobile break” relief officers who travel from site to site to facilitate breaks throughout the day and night, he said. In addition to this, “site based” relief support is provided for breaks, he said.
Employees have at least four different “escalation levels” and a 24/7 support line to raise concerns, he said. And when any issues are raised with management, G4S takes action to resolve them. The PSNI said it does not comment on specific security arrangements.
GMB organiser Michael Mulholland, who represents the G4S guards, reviewed the exchange between Mr Gregg and Mr Harris. He then told the News Letter the issues did not appear to have been raised with his union or G4S and that there appears to be “a severe lack of specifics around the alleged issues”.
When contacted by the News Letter, G4S declined to offer any comment.