Workers are protesting the unsafe working conditions and job insecurity experienced by gagged security officers in the Tasmanian state service.
Today United Workers Union members placed 90 cardboard cut-outs of security officers outside Launceston General Hospital, representing the 90 officers contracted by the state service across Tasmania, including at the hospital.
Due to a strict media policy enforced by the contractor Wilson Security, these officers are unable to speak out.
Quotes attributable to United Workers Union Property Services Spokesperson Sarah Ellis:
“Dodgy contractors sacrifice the health and safety of their workers to cut costs and turn a higher profit. You do not gag workers unless there is something to hide.
“These workers are experiencing dangerous levels of understaffing, where security officers are escorting incarcerated persons on their own, whilst police and corrections officers are always in pairs. Because they are unable to speak of their safety concerns, we are speaking up for them.
“The danger is heightened by a lack of training. Security officers are often thrown into the state service without proper training, expected to just learn on the job, despite the risks of their profession.
“When the pandemic hit, the Government’s contractor Wilson Security failed to provide proper PPE. Union members had to ensure basics like hand sanitiser were available.
“There’s no other way around it – the Liberal State Government must directly employ security officers, and other essential workers, such as cleaners, who are helping to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“These workers put themselves on the line day in and day out, and yet they do not have access to paid pandemic leave, unlike their counterparts employed directly by the government. We’re calling on the Tasmanian Government to immediately extend paid pandemic leave to all contract security and cleaning in the state service – to keep them and all Tasmanians safe in public spaces.”
The United Workers Union surveyed over a third of Wilson Security officers across the Tasmanian state service:
71% said they sometimes or never felt safe at work.
91% said they were not adequately paid for the jobs they do.
95% said they sometimes or always felt they were in danger at work.
65% said they never feel like they get the recognition they deserve for keeping Tasmanians safe.
91% said they did not feel the Security Award adequately covered the specialised work they do.