While government moves to change the law to regularise the security industry, former attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj has vowed to assist those in the Estate Police Association (EPA) begin the fight against their employers, for what they describe as “injustices.’
Maharaj, who spoke virtually at a press conference at the association’s headquarters in Marabella on Saturday, said, he intends to appoint a team of lawyers to work alongside him to help the EPA to see if a constitutional case can be done to compel the government to redress the situation.
He said precepted officers, those authorised to carry firearms, perform the same duties as police and many work for state agencies. But the estate officers’ rights are restricted as they do not have the protection of a union…Some precepted officers are also denied their annual leave and even maternity leave.
Maharaj said: “They put their lives on the line and run the possibility every day of not making it back home.”
He added that overtime for estate constables starts after 12 hours, whereas overtime is paid after eight hours for most jobs and it is common for officers to work 24 hours straight without overtime benefits.
The association’s president Deryck Richardson accused the Government of trying to destroy the association with the proposed amendments to the Private Security Industry Bill and amendments to the Supplemental Police Act, which recently went before the Senate.
Richardson said: “We are looking at fixing this blatant injustice against workers that allow private companies to continue to abuse, take advantage of, victimise, discriminate against people who are bringing them their daily bread.”
He said some companies pay the proper allowances for various types of leave, and many do not.
He called on all estate and security officers to join the association on July 16 in a motorcade from San Fernando to Port of Spain to highlight the issues.