Police station guards ‘paid below new minimum wage’

Security guards protecting Northern Ireland’s police stations are often earning below the new minimum wage, it is claimed, with one telling the News Letter he has only had a 20p pay rise in 15 years.

The news comes after the News Letter revealed that many unarmed G4S security guards have to work solo 12-16 hour shifts guarding stations along the border and in greater Belfast.

G4S security guards are voicing concerns about pay and working conditions, often in 12 hours shifts in police station sangars. Photo@ Arthur Allison

G4S security guards are voicing concerns about pay and working conditions, often in 12 hours shifts in police station sangars. Photo@ Arthur Allison

One said: “I have had a 20p pay rise over 15 years and have been employed by five different employers who all refused to give us a pay rise.

“G4s pay us £8.21 an hour which was good money 15 years ago but not now in light of the threat to us and our families.”

Another guard said: “Many frontline civilian staff, including security guards, are earning as little as £8.06 per hour which actually falls below the new recommended national minimum wage [£8.21 from April].”

“This for a job that carries the responsibility of providing the security of an entire police station, which also incorporates other roles like operating and monitoring CCTV, looking after personnel entering the station and other responsibilities which vary from station to station. When there is no G4s cover then two police officers are carrying out this role in place of one G4s guard.”

He said that some staff have had pay rises of only 50-60p in over ten years.

A third guard said the public is often shocked to see the level of responsibility civilians have, in fixed penalty processing, station enquiries and as camera operators.

“I have had members of the public gasp in surprise when they see such a company working in a contract with the police in such responsible roles,” he said.

UUP MLA Rosemary Barton affirmed all their concerns, and highlighted “the very low level of pay that these security staff are receiving”.

But GMB organiser Michael Mulholland said the points raised are “not completely accurate” adding that previous employers made a number of pay offers.

G4S Contract Director David Harris said it took on the PSNI contract nine months ago and it meets all legal requirements.

“All G4S employees are paid above the national living wage and site staffing levels meet the assessed requirements which are set out by the PSNI,” he said.

PSNI Director of Finance Mark McNaughten said: “Any contracts for agency staff requires the employing agency to comply with employment law, including minimum wage regulations.”