Labour Ministry threatens to ‘name, shame’ errant security companies
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Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton
Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton

–boosting legal department to challenge non-compliant firms

FOR yet another year, companies within the security sector have accounted for the largest percentage of labour complaints at the Ministry of Labour.

Weary of this situation, the ministry is planning to begin “naming and shaming” errant companies and, where necessary, instituting legal action against companies which take advantage of its employees.

Of the 867 complaints received by the Ministry of Labour in 2021, complaints against security companies accounted for 20.1 per cent of the grievances, being one of only two sectors to account for so many complaints.

Given that the ministry has consistently engaged companies in training and meetings to deal with non-compliance, Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton, says he has just about had it with non-compliant companies.

“I have done enough talking, I have done enough edifying, informing, training, so now we will deal with the courts in the regular way,” Minister Hamilton said in a recent telephone interview with this publication.

He said: “First, I will do public shame. I will issue a press release of all the names of the companies and the principal of the companies [that are delinquent]. When that is done I will have my lawyers assigned to take the security companies to court every day if I have to, and let’s see if they have enough money to pay lawyers to represent them every day.”

The minister said that the ministry is currently working on expanding its legal department in order to have the capacity to file court cases against non-compliant companies.

According to Minister Hamilton, he has already put the companies on notice of what he plans to do if they continue their “blatant disregard” for employees’ welfare and missives from the Ministry of Labour.

“I have explained to them what my plans are to deal with the security companies. So, it is not something that they have not heard. When it is repeated in the press, they will know that I am not just gaffing,” the minister said.

Issues pertaining to the payment of overtime, lack of payment of employees in a timely manner, and issues with granting employees their mandatory leave, are some of the key problems that continue to plague the welfare of employees in the security sector.

“All the breaches you can think about of the labour laws, security companies are guilty of, all the breaches. And I have not even paid attention yet on the safe work side of the company, this is just the labour side and they are the most delinquent sector in this regard. Just the other day some employees came to me where they are owed because for three months they have not been paid by the company,” Hamilton lamented.

Over the years, security guards who, in many cases, work for minimum wage, continue to decry the treatment meted out to them by their employers, and how it affects their lives.

The issue is believed to be persistent because there is no trade union for this category of employees.

Additionally, many of the employees, at times, are not highly educated, and fear victimisation by employers when they speak up about the treatment they endure.

The non-remittance of employees’ National Insurance Scheme (NIS) deductions is also an area where security companies often default in their obligations.

However, Minister Hamilton said that this area does not come under the authority of the Ministry of Labour, given that NIS has its own laws that govern its operations.

“It is not a labour relations matter, it’s a matter that has to do with the NIS, employers and employee. The Ministry of Labour and none of the departments have jurisdiction over the NIS contribution. We have intervened from time to time, but we have no legal jurisdiction, the NIS comes under its own act and procedures,” He related.

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