Private security unions of Latin America met in Bogota on November 21 – 23, 2018, to discuss the sector’s priority issues, such as occupational safety and health, low wages, workers living with insecurity, risking their lives every day, and working long hours to support their families.
As soon the event finished, we received news on the death of a private security guard in Panama, who died locked up in a cellar at work, and presumed to have been assaulted to steal his gun. There have been other cases in the cities of Cali and Barranquilla in Colombia, also in different locations in Brazil, and an endless list of workers injured in other countries where they are at high risk during this season when cash movement increases. Union leaders continue to ask themselves how many more families will be left without their loved ones by the end of the year as a result of insecurity and crimes committed in many of the countries in the region.
In Colombia, some well-known companies in the sector are putting their workers’ lives at risk by violating the defence of their armoured vehicles, indicating only two passengers. Union representatives stated that workers who expressed their disagreement with these company decisions have been sanctioned and even dismissed, even when the companies do not abide by the country’s private security law.
The event concluded with a firm position and commitment to defend the lives of workers, work as a human right, and that safety and health at work comes first for the preservation of life as an essential right. Union leaders also stressed the right to collective bargaining, since companies obtain high profits and do not pay fair wages, and companies should at least comply with the law, nothing more and nothing less.
UNI Global Union will be filing complaints with the companies, mostly multinationals that dominate the sector globally and have enough power to change these policies, because they cannot promote themselves as socially responsible when they are exploiting workers.