The Guardian September 12, 2001


Security firm callously opposes safety award

by Peter Mac 

The Australian security industry is notoriously insecure. Some four years 
ago a special report on the industry was severely critical of the lack of 
adequate safety standards in the industry, and in particular in regard to 
the "soft skin" guards, i.e. those who do not use armoured vehicles.

Several months ago a security guard was murdered outside a Melbourne 
abortion clinic. Three months ago an armoured car guard was bashed and 
robbed at an ex-servicemen's club in the Sydney suburb of Punchbowl. Last 
week at the same site security guard Ahmad Rashid died after being dragged 
from his car and shot twice in the chest just after he picked up the club's 
takings.

Thirty-two year-old Rashid, who arrived in Australia only two years ago, 
had been doing the job for 12 months. He was intent on providing for his 
family in Pakistan, and regularly forwarded money to them.

His employer was contracted to the security firm Chubbs, which, despite the 
shocking record of attacks on security employees, has consistently and 
vehemently opposed the introduction of an industrial award for minimum 
safety standards for guards in NSW.

Chubbs has offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest 
of Rashid's killer, but is apparently not willing to contribute to making 
the industry safer.

State Secretary of the Transport Workers' Union, Tony Sheldon, singled 
Chubbs out for particular criticism, noting that "Chubbs' downgrading of 
security arrangements have resulted in a downgrading of the industry".

After the attack, the Transport Worker's Union appealed to the Industrial 
Relations Commission (IRC) to create a special award for safety standards. 
The IRC application, which is believed to be the first to deal solely with 
safety issues, was open to negotiated agreement between the parties 
concerned or could be determined by order of the Commission.

Chubbs, true to form, was not interested in reaching an agreement, and 
opposed the application on the grounds that the safety of guards other than 
those in armoured vehicles was already covered by occupational health and 
safety regulations.

They were the only firm to oppose the hearing. In rejecting Chubbs' 
application, Commissioner Justice Francis Marks commented: "I don't 
understand why Chubbs, of all the employers, chooses to challenge the 
tribunal in establishing some sensible, appropriate and practical regime in 
which persons can carry out their work in what everyone must concede is a 
dangerous environment."

Justice Marks then proceeded to answer his own implicit question, noting 
that the new interim award he intended to introduce would "be based on 
services rather than price, because everyone will be subject to the same 
conditions  they can compete, but not on the basis of price-cutting".

Justice Marks is expected to make a determination this week. He has already 
warned Chubbs to be ready for a compulsory safety award, and union 
representatives are confident of some dramatic improvements in the 
industry.

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