Trade Union Membership by Rollo Davies

As a Security Officer, Should I Join a Trade Union?

My personal politics can possibly be best described as right of centre, but there is one thing that really gets my goat. Injustice. I think employment rights and treatment of security workers are of the utmost importance, and fair pay, reasonable benefits, and respect from an employer is worth fighting for. I have to come clean. In 2010, mainly to help out some colleagues during a nasty T.U.P.E. issue, I ended up actually founding a Trade Union that sadly, doesn’t exist any more. It does mean I know what I’m talking about and perhaps, more today than ever before in our industry, there could be strength in numbers, and collective bargaining is always going to achieve far better results than a quick chat with your boss ever would.

Just stop and consider our roles, and how we SHOULD be treated:

Protection. It’s the bottom line of everything we do, from the highly trained Close Protection professional; the ever watchful and ready Door Supervisor, to the Night Watchman in a factory. We are trusted with the care and safety of countless human lives and the protection of untold billions of pounds worth of property, each and every day, across the world. There can not be many more righteous or rewarding jobs than this surely? Job satisfaction and morale should be through the roof across the industry, with young entrants to the employment market clamouring to work in ‘Security’.

When put in these terms, you’d think that we would have levels of respect from employers and even the public, that would be right up there with Police Officers, Nurses, Firefighters and Ambulance crews. Sadly this is not, and as far as I can tell, never was the case. The employees in the security industry are seen as an unprofitable expense, needed, but never adding anything to the bottom line. A position occupied by cleaners, gardeners, maintenance engineers and the guy that washes the windows each week.

Does this annoy you?

It’s makes me angry to be honest.

It gets worse. Just factor in the employers that want to pay you as little as possible, cut any benefits to the bone and use security staff as scapegoats for any health and safety or loss failures within their organisations, and you can fully understand the general level of discontent. It isn’t like this everywhere admittedly, but this tends to be the situation in far too many cases.

How did things get so bad?

Familiarity breeding contempt is a big issue. Security is always there. When you arrive at the office in the morning and when you leave at night, there will be security in the reception. Want to know where the toilets are in the airport? Ask the security woman or guy. We’re there all the time, visible and in so many places, that security staff are almost part of the furniture. People completely forget why we are actually there.

They have no idea what we have to do, and how much responsibility sits on our shoulders.

The public do not see the training we undertake and just don’t know how utterly vital the person they may see every morning in their office, is for their own welfare, and the safety of those around them.

  • They don’t see us removing the concealed knife from the punter trying to enter the crowded club;
  • or, unblocking the carelessly obstructed Fire Exits;
  • are never around when we remove the fire risk from the top of the office heater;
  • don’t see when we catch the thief on CCTV and guide the Police to the scene;
  • can’t imagine that we administer first aid to the secretary that cut her hand on a desk drawer;
  • will never know about the guard that found the broken water pipe in the upstairs toilet that would have flooded the floors below if they didn’t get the water supply stopped then got the plumber out at 3am to sort it out;
  • will never hear about the wounded bodyguards that protected and saved the life of the foreign, company chief executive….. They will just hear from the press that ‘a businessman was attacked’…..

We’ve become ‘the grey man & woman’. Largely ignored and never respected. So, the situation is pretty obvious to us. We put up with it on a daily basis. It’s been this way for so long we just shrug our shoulders and get on with it, as always. I apologise if I sound a bit like I’m ranting but I’ve thought about this for a long time and some things strike me as, well, just wrong!

The SIA has over 320,000 licensed workers operating in the UK security industry, yet I have never heard any representative of those employees speaking out on our behalf. For example, love or hate the departed, Bob Crow (Oh really?… Ed.), but he was head of a union with 80,000 members, all very highly paid and rewarded for what they do, yet barely a day went by when he didn’t pop up on the TV or radio campaigning on some issue or another.

We have 4 times the workers, but who represents us???

I never really knew what to think about unions….. Trouble makers? Greedy rabble rousers? Lefty commie dodgepots? Or organisations just out to fight for the best interests of their members? I looked into it, long and hard, and trade unions in this country are so well regulated and their members so well protected, that it seemed the obvious course of action. Just join a union!

Over the last few years, employees rights have been stripped to the bone. Should you have any problem with a company then the odds are most certainly stacked against you. If you want to stand any hope of protecting yourself from rogue employers, there is far greater strength in numbers. Those numbers can only really be achieved by membership of a Trade Union. Whatever your politics, they campaign for their members rights, which is universally a good thing.

Sadly, since the departure of the National Security Workers Union, there is no real dedicated organisation that covers our industry, however the two largest unions, the GMB and Unite, both have Security sections that will be happy to welcome you. Union subscription fees are low and the possible benefits are exceedingly high, so we at The Professional Security Officer Magazine, strongly recommend that you have a long and serious look at Trade Union membership. They can provide useful advice and, if the worse happens, represent you and your colleagues in dealings with your employer.

I’m starting to sound too ‘Salesy…’ so I’ll leave it there. I just need to say that every member will make them stronger and their voice louder. You may just help be part of the solution and with the decline of our living standards, sacrificed on the alter of company profit, hopefully one day, Trade Unions will regain the standing and power we all need them to have.

To read about Rollo Davies click here