The Guyana Association of Private Security Organiza-tions (GAPSO) yesterday strongly condemned the announcement by the Government to effectively ban single mothers from working nights in the private security sector.
A press release from the group follows a statement from the Office of the Minister within the Ministry of Social Protection, Keith Scott, who has direct responsibility for labour, which stated that the ministry intended to “minimize in the first instance and eventually eliminate night work for single mothers within the Private Security Industry.”
Scott had made an announcement on the 24th August, that in pursuit of his “noble idea” that he was going to request senior government officials to ensure immediately that the contracts for the provision of private security services provide for the exclusion of single mothers from night work.
The press release from the ministry said that whatever policies are developed, single mothers should not be compelled to do night work, but should be deterred from doing so, if they elected to.
The announcement form the ministry has drawn criticism from several quarters, including the Red Thread organization who deemed the move as a “cheap and nasty suggestion,” which might lead to security firms sending single mothers home or refraining from hiring them
In yesterday’s edition of Stabroek News, Red Thread coordinator Karen de Souza pointed out that Minister Scott was placing the burden on the security firms, when the labour ministry should be addressing other important issues, such as, the schools’ sweepers/cleaners who have been discriminated against in terms of workers’ rights by successive administrations, the role of society leaders in the destruction of the moral fabric of society, and the lack of support systems for working mothers, such as day care facilities.
In its statement, GAPSO described Scott’s choice to selectively dismantle and target single mothers within the private security sector as “a cruel and arbitrary attack on the sector.”
“GAPSO feels that it is a high-handed and unilateral approach being adopted by the Government and definitely lacks insight or thinking outside the box. It remains unclear why only the private security sector was selected while other professions are excluded and what suggestions if any there [are] to solve the inevitable unemployment that will arise therefrom,” the GAPSO statement said.
According to the press release, GAPSO said that they found it repulsive that the government would publicly offend, humiliate and devalue the very people that put their lives on the line day and night to protect others, including government ministries and assets. Allegations of sexual harassment and underpayment demonstrated the importance and need for a clear and robust regulation of the security industry.
GAPSO, in its statement, called for the following actions to be taken; an immediate independent review of the minister’s proposal, widespread consultations with stakeholders, and a functioning welfare system that provides benefits according to different situations.
The GAPSO statement concluded by advising Scott to strive for more informed positions, to make better analyses from empirical data, to refrain from making hasty generalizations and to demonstrate that he is capable of finding other solutions to the problem.
Scott has found himself at the centre of several controversies since becoming minister. Prior to this he had clashed with Amerindian organisations which had accused him of stating that they were greedy for land.
Days ago, he was also accused of “financial bullyism” by the he Guyana Public Service Co-operative Credit Union.