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Workers fight to secure a voice in the workplace

Security officers in Halifax announce union campaign

by Kaley Kennedy

Securitas workers Simon Vigneault (centre) and Michael Anthony (right) speak to members of the media and community at a press conference announcing a union drive to organise security workers in Halifax. Photo by John Benoit.
Securitas workers Simon Vigneault (centre) and Michael Anthony (right) speak to members of the media and community at a press conference announcing a union drive to organise security workers in Halifax. Photo by John Benoit.
In 2006, Securitas signed an agreement to respect the rights of workers to form a union. Photo by John Benoit.
In 2006, Securitas signed an agreement to respect the rights of workers to form a union. Photo by John Benoit.

Security workers trying to unionise in Halifax say that Securitas, their employer, is refusing to honour an agreement the company signed stating they would respect the rights of workers to unionise in their workplace.

“Securitas will respect the rights of all employees to form and join trade unions of their choice and to bargain collectively in accordance with local laws and principles,” reads the 2006 international agreement between Securitas, Union Network International, and the Swedish Transport Workers’ Union. “The company will enable local union representatives to arrange meetings with employees in a non-disruptive manner.”

Locally, however, Securitas has refused to meet with union organisers, says David Bush, an organiser for the Service Employees International Union  (SEIU), who announce on Thursday that they are currently working with Securitas employees in Halifax to form a union.

Simon Vigneault, a Securitas employees for eight years, says he and other workers received letters from Securitas discouraging them from being involved in the union.

Vigneault, who spoke at a press conference held on Thursday with fellow Securitas employee Michael Anthony, says that he wants there to be a union because it will give workers a voice in their workplace, and hopes Securitas will honour their word.

Anthony, who works at the Museum of Natural History, says that currently, high turnover and inadequate training put workers and customers at risk because security officers currently do not have the experience or tools to do their jobs.

“People expect to have a fun and educational experience [at the Museum]. They shouldn’t have to worry about their safety,” he says about his workplace.

Securitas is the largest security company in Atlantic Canada, and the second largest in the world. Last year, Securitats posted $278 million in profits. Currently, Anthony is paid $9.85 per hour. In march, he will receive a pin for his 30 years of service.

The main issue for workers, however, are necessarily not wages, says Anthony. Training is a major issue. A lack of job-specific training impedes security officers from being professional in their jobs, he says.

Securitas workers in Newfoundland, British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec are all unionized.

“Why are Halifax security officers any less deserving of a voice in the workplace?” says Bush. Bush estimates there are about 160 to 180 Securitas employees in the Halifax area. The union is demanding that Securitas meet with union representatives and provide necessary information for the organising drive - including the number of employees.
 


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Topics: Labour
Tags: SEIU
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