Why Security Sub-Contracting Must be Stopped: Australian Lives Matter!

Yesterday, I had the chance to speak (on the phone) with a ‘Security Officer’ stationed at one of the ‘ Quarantine Hotels in Melbourne.’ Sadly he tested Positive for Covid-19 while working at the CBD Hotel!

It is sad to see some Large Australian security companies sub-contract their security guard contracts to dodgy ‘ security-contractors!’ And sometimes the security officers employed by these ‘cowboys-sub-contractors,’ have got no idea who they are actually working for. These phoney’s don’t provide; Company Names, Business License Number, or Websites to the engaged security officers, each time they know they are not meeting their employer obligations (  such as Nationa Employment Standards, ATO-Rules, or Fair Works ACT’s); even when they have a legitimate company. Why so? It helps them to operate ‘off-the-books’ so, their wage-theft/cash-in-hand employment is untraceable!

Also, see the following :

The trick is; the ‘sham security sub-contractor’ usually provides only their first-name (likely pseudo names). For example in some of the ‘Quarantine Hotel’s in Melbourne;’  a particular security sub-contractor supplied hundreds of guards to these hotels by providing only  his Pseudo names to his guard .’

I made a concerted effort to get a few more hotel quarantine security guards to speak about this sad development through one of my contacts, but the guards wouldn’t directly speak to me. The reason why? ‘ they did not have the right Australian work visa’ so, they are scared to testify so it doesn’t affect their Visa!

Professional Small-Medium Size Security Companies

There are very good, reliable, and professional small-medium size security companies that can provide ethical and high-quality sub-contracting services and possibly execute the contract directly. But it seems some big Security Companies would prefer to work with ‘one-man cowboy show,’ that in so sometimes don’t  even have Security Business/Master License, Insurance and proper Staff Training and Induction Procedures, and most times pay their guard’s cash-in-hand (whether they have security license or not.)

Example: I once worked at a shopping center here in Melbourne, and the main security provider (names withheld) used a sub-contractor who provided shopping center security guards for this site. The security officer who worked for this particular sub-contractor had got no idea what company they are working for. I asked one of the guards why and he told me, ‘ because the company keeps changing names every few months and they don’t even have a website; not to mention the wage-theft these security officers went through. Maybe I will save it for another article.

Recommendation and Solutions

Below are 4 recommendations-solutions, I hope the Australian, Victorian State Government, and the Victorian Police (LRD)  could use to help make Australian Security Companies provide Ethical and Professional Security Services to all Australians and make our communities safer again!

Solution 1 – Abolish Security Sub-Contracting
I think it will be best if the Australian, Victorian, and various State’s and Territory Government’s ‘abolish security sub-contracting’ within the Australian Security Industry. These practices do not only encourage sharp and dangerous practices, but it also places the general community in a risky situation like the ‘Melbourne Hotel Quarantine Debacle.’

Also, see the following :
Danger to Australian National Security Due to Underpayment of Guards
How to recover your stolen wages form your security employer

Solution 2 – Direct Contracting
I will also suggest, the Federal and State and Territory Government encourage more direct Security -contracting or consortium-contracting. Victorians and Australian lives ‘Matter’ are in danger today, due to an outdated and dangerous practice of ‘ Security Sub-Contracting.’ The majority of ‘ Big Security Companies in Australia‘ are very good with their processes and practice when they handle security contracts directly. But, sadly some, tend to subcontract to the lowest bidding sub-contractor who in most cases are ‘dodgy, unlicensed and hire untrained or unlicensed guards; whom they mostly pay in cash. Since they “ the sub-contractors” are unable to pay the right/legal wage to attract qualified, experienced and capable security guards.

Solution 3 – Internationa Students
I will advise the Victorian State Government and other  States and Territories to prohibit International-Students from ‘ being granted security license and working in the Security Industry.’ International students working as security officers pose a greater risk to our communities, businesses, and Australian Security Industry.

International students are only permitted to work 20hrs a week in most situations/periods; often you will find  International Students working above their permitted working hours,  for cash-in-hand, or while unlicensed to avoid ATO and Immigration Department tracking their illegal work hours on the books.
International student’s- security officers are a darling of these ‘unethical and phoney security sub-contractors, they are kind of a match made in ‘fraud land.’
Why is that so, the ‘phoney security contractor’ hire them to work cash which means they the students are happy to be underpaid for as low as $15-$20 per hour. Working above their permitted 20hrs a week visa limit undetected. The ‘phoney sub-contractor’ also avoids paying GST, Income Tax and Superannuation and in many situations operating without A Master/Business Security License themselves.

Solution 4 – Monitored Sub-contracting

 I am really reluctant to provide this particular solution but, since some security professionals in the industry believe that ‘ethical sub-contracting’ still has a role in the security industry so, I will proffer these solutions:

  • LRD (Licensing and Regulation Departments or your state equivalent) should create an ‘ Approved List’ database of 50 to 120 Security Companies that can operate as sub-contractors (and the list is updated and reviewed every 6-12 months)
  • These approved sub-contractors by LRD must have held a Security Services License for a period of 2 years, with evidence of compliance with TAX, Labour Hire Authority, Superannuation Payments, Work Cover, etc. before they can be approved as sub-contractors
  • The Main Security Contractor Must secure written approval from the Client and LRD before they can engage any ‘ LRD Approved Sub-contractor’ at any given Site or Contract
  • The Sub-Contractor Security Company can not provide more than 15-25 security officers to the Main Security Contractor in a particular contract and not more than a total of 50 security officers to the Main contractor at any time
  • The main Security Contractor must take all/full Responsibilities, Risk, Liabilities of the sub-contractor (i.e. if guards are not paid, or under-paid, litigations, the client is not provided with agreed services, training and PPE, unlicensed guards etc.)

I can provide a further explanation or breakdown of all solutions offered.

Conclusion: The Federal State and Territories Government will benefit a great deal if security sub-contracting is Abolished and below are more reasons why;

– it will help avoid exposing our communities to greater harm like the ‘ Melbourne Hotel Quarantine Fiasco’
– there will be an increase in GST, Income Tax and Superannuation payments to the Government and Super Funds because the number of legitimate and on the books guards will increase 10 folds
– the quality of security guards will greatly improve in Australia because most companies will be forced to recruit directly, and often direct-owner contract security officers are of higher quality
– Government and Private Business Site will be better Protected because of increase quality of security personnel deployed
– Australian communities will be much safer because top-quality security officers deployed
– It will attract a lot of Women to choose Security as an occupation. Currently, women account for less than 10% of the total number of security officers in the Australian Security Industry
– It will also help attract people who are on Welfare to take up Security Guarding as a job, helping the Government save more money on reducing the number of Welfare recipients

Written By: Job Moses [Security Guarding Services Expert and Consultant based in Melbourne Australia]

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