School security guards are speaking out against their mistreatment by both the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Works and reminding the authorities that “[they] are human beings, too.”
A self-designated spokesperson tells REAL News she is totally demoralized by the way they are treated, and if it were not for the fact that she has bills to pay and children to provide her, she would have walked off the job already.
She reports that the guards attached to the government schools were reassigned from the Ministry of Education to the Ministry of Works almost two years ago. While they received no formal communication at the time, she says they were promised that their pay would be increased to the level paid to the Works’ security officers.
However, there has been no change to her wages, she claims, and their weekly pay remains at less than $400 a week.
Adding to their grief, she alleges that no new uniforms have been distributed to the school security officers these past two years – despite the fact that officers deployed by the Works Ministry have received new gear.
She points to the “same old washed-out, pressed-out shirts” she has been wearing with the skirts she says she personally had made.
The distressed guard says they were told that vouchers for new uniforms had been sent to the Treasury, but that there was no money to honour them. This has been going on for about a year, she reports.
Further, she describes as “criminal” the fact that there is no physical structure to house the guards on the school premises.
“In the sun and in the rain,” she says, “we have no shelter. We have to ketch up against the buildings or in the corridor in order not to get wet; and sometimes you end up with wet socks and shoes from where you are standing on the compound after it rains.”
This situation, she says, has been brought to the attention of the Ministry of Education. However, complaining officers have been told that the Ministry of Works is responsible for providing them shelter, she says.
The woman says she is confused by the absence of responsibility, since the guards are still being paid by the Ministry of Education, although they have been taken on by the Works Ministry.
“It is too much. We work hard under uncomfortable conditions, and, for the most part, we work alone – no matter how big the school compound is,” she says. “Somebody needs to help us.”
Meanwhile, a Public Works security guard claims that he was informed, last week, that his wages would be short, since the Ministry was unable to make payments in full at that time.
However, the school guard says she has no knowledge of that situation since they are paid by different sources.