Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
IF NATIONAL Security Minister Peter Bunting has his way, there could be restrictions on the number of hours security guards are allowed to work.
Bunting, the member of parliament for Central Manchester, in contributing to the debate on the increase in the minimum wage in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, said security guards are being overworked.
"I would ask that when he examines next year the minimum wage for security guards that he also looks at capping the number of hours that guards work," Bunting said, as he put the suggestion for the consideration of Labour and Social Security Minister Derrick Kellier.
SHARP RETORT FROM CHARLES
But the suggestion was met with a sharp retort from Pearnel Charles, the opposition spokesman on labour, who said "Kill yuh a go kill di guards, dat caan possible."
Bunting, however, insisted that the issue should be considered.
"We are being unfair to those who have to be employed as security guards; sometimes they work 80 hours, 90 hours a week and what it is doing is that it is putting their lives at risk," Bunting said.
He added: "We recently had a security guard who was murdered and a few hours before a police patrol woke him up at his station, but because the man was working so many hours a week, the man was literally exhausted and he fell back asleep and he was murdered within a few hours."
In pressing his claim, Bunting described the vast number of continuous hours worked by security guards as "vulgar exploitation".
He said it is necessary for the hours to be capped, "particularly because some of these guards are armed".
"They are not only putting their own lives at risk, but when they are exhausted and fall asleep that is potentially putting another firearm into the illicit marketplace that will be used to kill innocent civilians."
But Kellier appeared not to be moved my Bunting's plea. Responding to his colleague minister, Kellier said, "The fact is that sometimes a man sleep on an eight-hour shift. So, if he is even doing 16 hours, it may not necessarily be because the hours are too much, it may be for the one day."
The minister, however, said his ministry wants "to ensure that the system is geared in such a way that it does not disenfranchise or put anyone under pressure".