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Port Security business model flawed, says acting managing director

Published:Friday | September 16, 2016 | 12:00 AMJason Cross
Robinson

Following last Friday's protest by frustrated aviation and access control security personnel, who said they have had a number of outstanding concerns, ranging from salary deductions not being paid over to the relevant organisations, to late-night transportation problems, the acting managing director of Port Security Corps Ltd, Colonel Derek Robinson, has admitted that the company's business model is "flawed" and has been preventing proper revenue growth.

The protest took place outside Port Security's head offices on Ocean Boulevard in downtown Kingston.

"The business model basically is flawed and this has caused a serious deficit in our finances and it has gotten increasingly worse and worse. All members of staff are hurting," Robinson told The Gleaner.

"The truth be told, the business model associated with the establishment has not quite given us the stability and revenue that we should get. As a result, for a number of years going back before the current management, maybe as much as 15 years, we have been in a crisis."

Employees have been experiencing late payment of salaries, non-payment of deductions to insurance companies, the National Housing Trust and other entities, and a lack of access to other benefits to which they are entitled.

Robinson has assured that efforts are being made to address the setbacks.

He said one major hurdle passed was a recent Cabinet submission that is expected to restructure the entity as a legislative entity.

"That has happened a few times (no pay). The truth of the matter is, we are in a competitive market. As a government entity, we are responsible for paying statutory deductions. Our competitors don't have that responsibility and when you match the cost of doing business, it is far in excess of what we are getting back in return," Robinson said.

"We are currently engaging these different companies with the attempt to try and rectify the situation. There is dialogue taking place as to how best we can fix it over a period of time."

 

EXPECTED TURNAROUND

 

He continued: "I would like to assure (workers) that we are trying our best to solve that problem. If things go according to plan, it might be solved even sooner than we think. The good thing is that a Cabinet submission has recently been signed, which seeks to reorganise the corps to give it the legislative authority to be at the ports of entry. It speaks also to the possibility of getting some sort of financing from security fees paid. Right now, we are not getting anything. All things being equal, we should see a turnaround in terms of making us a legislative authority, just like PICA [Passport, Immigration & Citizenship Agency]."

Robinson said Friday's protest served as a reminder that much work is needed.

"One of the main concerns that they have raised with us is the fact that they are having a problem with transportation from work. The persons who are expressing this concern work at the Norman Manley International Airport, which is extremely out of the way. We ran into a problem with our contracted transport providers. Giving the line of our business, and (the fact that persons are) being paid minimum wage, you understand the dilemma, especially when you are in a world of security and drug trafficking, and that sort of thing," said Robinson.