By Kebba Secka
The G4 Security (G4S) guards attached to the US Embassy, Tuesday May 22, took to the streets demanding better working conditions. The protesters are demanding salary increment, reduction of long working hours and pending bonus to be paid to them. The protest involved only the Company’s Guards at the US Embassy. The protesters engaged their manager in a discussion lasting three hours at their headquarters in Fajara, without reaching a deal with him.
After failing to reach an agreement with their employer, the guards went out to various installations guarded by their colleagues and asked to join them in a peaceful street protest. Guards posted to the US ambassador’s residence were the first to be discharged and asked to join in the protest. At the US Embassy, guards on the post also joined in the protest, headed for the warehouse at Jimpex.
According to Sanna Cham, taking to the streets was their last option; that this was why they engaged their employer and concern authorities like the Labour Department and the Ministry of Interior, but their situation remains the same.
‘‘For fifteen years, the Company has not increased our salaries. This is painful,’’ he asserted. ‘‘We have been engaging our manager for three years to try to meet and satisfy our demands but he is always giving us promise without any sign of making it happen,’’ he added; that going by their contract agreement, they are supposed to work for eight hours but instead they work for twelve hours now; that they were promised salary increment but four years on, this has not happened.
‘‘We are not happy with the way our manager is treating us. We want both our manager and the US Embassy to treat us like human beings with respect, by giving us our rights. We are offering them our services to the best of our ability,’’ said one protester.
At the Embassy, the US Regional Security Officer (RSO), gathered the protesters to persuade them to go back to work. The RSO informed them that they are aware of their concerns and promise them that something will be done about it. He however told them that those who joined the protest cannot be assured of a contract with the US Embassy, after 24 hours.
‘‘For those of you who are on shift and have to abandon it, I will make an exception today without consequence but if you do not go back to your duties right now, I cannot guarantee that you will continue working with the Embassy again,’’ the RSO told protesters. ‘‘I cannot have my guards leaving the embassy and my people unprotected,’’ he said.
He told protesters that they are working to fix their demands but that he cannot sit down watching their facilities go unprotected. The protesters told him that they do not want to hear empty promises; that they have been promised for several years in vain; that the reason for their protest is not news to him because a letter was written to him specifying their concerns and also engaging him in direct consultations.