Spotlight on security

Wellington security trainees, Avei Toaitiiti, Kit Bennett and Mohamad El Sayed Ahmad

E tū training “awesome” say security guards

A group of Wellington security guards has signed up for an E tū pilot programme offering Level 2 qualifications training – and it won’t cost them a cent.

The tuition fee is normally $1,500 but the union is paying the bill for the seven participants. Funding to extend the programme has been provided by the private training company, Skills4work, with scholarships available for Wellington security guards next year. If successful, the programme will be rolled out in Auckland in 2019 and in Christchurch in 2020.

The project is part of a union strategy to improve the pay and conditions of security guards.

“It’s an awesome thing,” says delegate, Kit Bennett.

“It’s actually something I’ve been researching myself, going through the net, making phone calls, trying to find out how I can do Level 2 myself, but it’s really expensive and I can’t afford it. And the training itself is hard to find, so it’s great. I’m really happy to be here and I’m really happy to be selected.”

Kit, who earns the minimum wage, hopes the qualification will help lift her pay, and also the mana of security guards: “That’s something that really needs to happen, that people start acknowledging security guards more,” she says.

Delegate Tiso Panapa says the security industry generally won’t train its guards, which is a risk for clients and the guards themselves.

“The union has gone out of its way to ensure members are well-trained in this industry, and thanks to the union we have this opportunity to upskill ourselves. It’ll make things safer on the job site.”

Programme trainee, Mohamad El Sayed Ahmad agrees.

“What I learn here is to do the work properly, to come back home safe, and to keep the site safe – me, my colleagues and everyone who is working there,” he says.

E tū embraces Fair Pay Agreements

E tū is committed to working to secure minimum industry standards for security guards through a Fair Pay Agreement (FPA).

The Government is promoting FPAs as the best way to improve wages and provide minimum working standards especially in low-paid industries such as cleaning, laundry, catering and security.

Employers demonise FPAs as ushering in an era of strikes but in fact the Government has specifically ruled out industry-wide strikes. FPAs simply set basic conditions across industries, which apply to all workers. This would effectively deal with firms that win contracts through rock bottom pay, thus driving down pay and conditions for everyone.

“I think we need it so all our guards are treated the same, not any more, not any less,” says security guard, Kit Bennett.

“It doesn’t matter what company you work for, an industry has to have a standard and I mean a standard they have to pay for, whether it’s a Level 2 or Level 3 qualification.”