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WHEN: 1 pm Monday 21 November 2022

WHERE: County Court of Victoria – 250 William St, Melbourne

WHAT: Security guards at the County Court of Victoria will take industrial action in front of the courthouse. Security guards are fighting for a new enterprise agreement with fair annual leave provisions and lunch breaks so Muslim workers can attend prayers at the local Masjid. During the one-hour stop work action, workers will hand out flyers directing community members to contact G4S General Manager Patrick Marcinkowski to express their support for these essential workers.

WHO: Court Security Officer Sam Syed and Nick Richardson, United Workers Union spokesperson will be available for comment.

In the new agreement, security firm G4S wants to force workers to take annual leave at times the court closes. This would impact the multicultural workforce’s ability to use their annual leave for their religious holidays, visiting their families or for their own recuperation.

Sam Syed has been working at the County Court for approximately four years, is a migrant from India and one of the workers who would be impacted. “The last time I went to India was in 2018. Due to the pandemic, I’ve been unable to return to visit my family or my wife’s family. I need my annual leave so I can visit and care for my parents in India, both of whom are diabetic, and to travel with my family so my children can see their grandparents,” said Sam.

The second key issue motivating today’s action is an ask on the company for longer lunch breaks – 15 minutes on top of the 30 minutes. This would allow Muslim workers to attend prayers, with some guards forced to work part-time to be able to attend prayers currently.

At this time of year, ongoing industrial action could see the courts being shut down and the system clogged in the lead-up to Christmas with the safety of the public, jurors and court officials compromised without security guards performing their essential work.

“Guards do not want to deny justice to Victorians. However, G4S security firm’s refusal to acknowledge the impact their annual leave and break time policies have on their workforce has seen these workers forced to act – for their families and their faith,” said Damien Davie, United Workers Union Property Services Coordinator.

In the lead-up to the action, community support has been strong. “I feel enormous empathy towards both the guards and police. Definitely, it’s a stressful, dangerous profession and proper paid annual leave would be essential to mental, emotional and physical health, recovery and rest,” said a community member who attended the County Court of Victoria last week.

Sam’s full name is Abdul Muqtadar Syed. Sam will depart at 1:15 pm to attend prayers at the West Melbourne Masjid, with a number of his co-workers, as part of the action.


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