The trial of terror suspects accused of plotting to bomb Sydney’s Holsworthy army base is one of hundreds of cases that could be shut down if G4S guards at Victorian courts are forced into strike action.
Court guards working for disgraced security contractor G4S (formerly GSL) will today file for the right to strike at Fair Work Australia over a long-running pay dispute.
G4S guards provide entry-point screening of visitors for weapons and bombs at the County Court and Magistrates Court as well as in-court security.
A strike by these low-paid guards could shut down Victoria’s court system.
LHMU Security Union Assistant State Secretary Ben Redford said guards were simply seeking the same pay rates as guards at other major contractors in Victoria.
“These guards keep our courts safe and secure. They ensure the wheels of justice are not derailed by criminals and terrorists,” said Mr Redford.
“They take their jobs very seriously. They do not want to go on strike.”
“But they are trapped on poverty wages and have an employer that won’t bargain in good faith.”
“These guards have staged more than 50 protests to get G4S to treat them with some basic respect. Unfortunately strike action now seems to be the only option left.”
“G4S is a WorkChoices relic. It has forced guards at the Country Court to stay on individual contracts that leave them as much as $2000 a year behind the rest of the industry.”
“G4S guards are simply asking to be paid the same as guards at other major contractors, Wilson, ISS and now MSS.”
“G4S is treating its employees with the same contempt is has shown for prisoners and asylum seekers in its care.”
“This is another reminder of the crucial role of security guards now have in so many parts of our society and why decent pay is vital if we are want to attract and retain the skilled, experienced guards we all rely on to keep us safe and secure.”
The dispute comes as strike action at the MCG was averted after major contractor MSS and its guards last week reached an in principle agreement on an 8.5 percent pay rise over two years, in line with other major contractors Wilson and ISS.
Guards have been in negotiations with G4S since November 2008 and say their scandal-ridden employer is not bargaining in good faith.
G4S operates private prisons, prisoner transport, court security and immigration detention centres across Australia has been dogged by numerous scandals.
The LHMU Security Union is campaigning to clean up the private security industry, which employees 100,000 guards across Australia.
NOTE: The Supreme Court is not affected by this dispute. Security at this court is provided by ISS, another contractor who pays guards fair wages in line with their union collective agreement.