Berbice guards seek intervention over non-payment of salaries

Security guards providing services at government buildings in Region Six are calling for an intervention to ensure that payments owed to them for the year so far are released by their employer, Integrated Security Services.

At the end of last year, the private firm took over the contract for the provision of security services for government buildings within the region and retained many of the guards who had been working with the previous contractor, Home Safe Security Services.

However, several guards, who requested anonymity after they said a recent report by a newscast on their plight resulted in them receiving threats of termination of their services, told Sunday Stabroek that some of them have received partial payments, while others have received nothing so far. They complained that while they await payment, their bills continue to pile up.

“Some people get $9,000, some get $20,000 and one big set ain’t get nothing,” one female guard said.

The woman, who is still awaiting payment, stressed that she has a mortgage payment due. “The bank give me a day when me get for carry in the money or they might take me house. Me confused. Me get children to send to school. What we must do? We need President [David] Granger to look into this matter ’cause we go [Department of] Labour and them say them looking into it. We go ministry, same thing. We go the REO [Regional Executive Officer] office nuff times and nothing. We can’t wait more. We need the president to look into it now before people start lose them house,” she said.

Another guard highlighted more immediate needs. “Right now, let me tell you the truth, me ain’t get none food in me house. Nothing. Me studying me children them, me can starve but I need the money for them and me bills. Nobody ain’t gon’ say give me light and so free, we got to pay we bills,” she noted.

“We coming here and run behind them for me money. Sometime we nah get passage to go home back, we got to walk go home,” another lamented.

Some guards also said that the firm is now claiming that some persons who are awaiting payment are not employed with it. “When they take over, we took our application, picture, NIS card, TIN [certificate] and everything else in and them had we working all them months and now when time for pay them trying to duck we application and say we not employed with them,” a guard related.

Adding insult to injury, the guards said, are the insults they have received from the firm’s management. As a result, they questioned whether any background checks were done before the contract was awarded to the firm. “We don’t know how he get the contract,” one guard said.

While the guards are desperately seeking the president’s intervention, they were all scared to go on record after sometime last week a newscast carried their story with their identities, after which they say their jobs were threatened. “He say he go knock we off when he hear we go to the media, so we scared. Jobs hard to get but we need our money,” a New Amsterdam guard said.

Sunday Stabroek also learned that security guards attached to the same private firm in Region Five have also not been paid on time. On Thursday, the guards met with the Region Five Chairman Vickchand Ramphal, who promised to raise the issue with the relevant authorities.

Attempts were made to contact the guard service on numbers provided but the calls rang out.

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