Many security companies offer only the myth of security

Dear Editor,

All the current hullabaloo about insecure women, all of whom in fact are security guards, reminds me of the incident, more vividly than others, of some years ago.

In the first incident the female guard sat in a chair located outside the south-easterly corner of the National Cultural Centre, in a position to survey cars going into the parking lot there.

We were early and took advantage of parking in the secure (?) space directly in front of the immobile guard. We therefore were not bothered about safety being an issue, that is until two-and-a-half hours later, with the show finished, we quickly accessed our car. Just as quickly we observed that the side mirrors were no longer there. Of course we felt justified in asking our still immobile security whether she had any intelligence about the matter. But first we had to wake her up from a deep slumber (just possibly induced?). Immediately we knew that any effort to get a satisfactory response was quite useless. Suddenly she scrambled up and flayed around – an indication of her not being quite certain where she was.

This was obviously going to be a useless encounter. Nevertheless we sought to find out who was her employer. Still in a dream state she mumbled that she did not know (the uniform gave no clue), so we just had to resign ourselves to the loss. There just was no way of complaining to her incognito employer.

The second incident, sometime after, registered a similar state of ignorance on the part of a rather bereft female security guard, who had stood/sat all day in front of the property next to ours.

As the dark of the evening enveloped her station she rushed over to our premises, and in a panic asked for help in contacting her employers, so that she can remind them to send the next shift guard, who was much overdue, to relieve her.

We let her use the telephone so that she could make her case as pleadingly as possible. Then suddenly she stopped, to ask where she was, admitting that she had no clue of the address, street name or neighbourhood to which she had been diligently assigned.

It is hard to forget such examples of the exploitation of valued women in the business of virtual security.

While there are visibly outstanding employers of disciplined and professional ranks, they are, however, outnumbered by others who offer only the myth of security (male and female) who clearly would not have not undergone a certified fitness test, and who are aged, of minimal perceptual capacity, inadequately lettered, and can neither engage in a chase, nor more troublingly run from any attacker to save their own lives.

With these impediments they can hardly bargain, even for the applicable minimum wage, or insist on the legal number of hours to be worked per shift, or week.

Incidentally, the age group is generally such that too many are ineligible for membership of the National Insurance Scheme. Even the provision for leave is haphazard, while it is uncertain whether there is any official mechanism in place to confirm the overtime hours so often worked without the relevant compensation.

So that the Minister’s apparent mis-step would have raised a much more substantive inquiry into an area of exploitative employment.

Yours faithfully,

E B John

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