Our CEO Dave Potts explains how GSTS is pioneering Ethical Pay Structures:
During 2019, working closely with one of our key clients in the Food Manufacturing industry, we began to be challenged by Ethical Auditors who were basing their audits on The Ethical Trading Initiative Base Code 2014, which was designed to protect workers involved in food production across the globe. It was vital that all companies involved in our clients supply chain aligned themselves to this initiative and be brought into line with the key features of it.
To someone like me who has been in the industry for over 20 years and is passionate about improving and encouraging staff through training and improved pay structures, it was an absolute breath of fresh air. I embraced it entirely.
Even before the ethical audits I was extremely proud that:
– Every single GSTS staff member was paid above the National Minimum Wage.
– Over 95% of GSTS staff were paid at £9.00 and above.
The whole ethos of GSTS is based on the fact that the industry has neglected continuous training for a number of years and that the acquired skills of men and women in the industry are not used to the best advantage. The industry itself has yet to shout from the rooftops that its workers deserve realistic wages for their skills and commitment. For many years the industry has rolled over to the Dutch auction style of procurement where the lowest price always wins. The low ‘winning’ price and lack of margin then prohibits wage increases other than the yearly tracking of the National Minimum Wage.
I have seen some of the worst examples of this within the construction security sector where Quantity Surveyors will proudly announce that they have been quoted prices that don’t even equate to breaking even point let alone a semblance of any profit. In the past, I have also seen major businesses refuse point blank to increase charge rates in line with the National Minimum Wage. I have also seen official tenders circulated which are based 100% on price with absolutely no mention of quality.
For this reason, the industry has continued with outdated and at times illegal practices:
– Excessive working hours.
– Standard rate for overtime.
– Wage increases only in line with NMW
– Deductions of time for meal breaks and rest periods.
– No correlation between regular overtime and annual leave.
The Private Security Industry Act 2001, instigated the SIA as the statutory body to regulate and licence companies and individuals. At the time of the rush to licence and train officers – 2002/3 onwards – there was a heady optimism that wages for officers would improve and figures we could only dream about were bandied around at will. It was the time that we all thought would herald a new beginning of the right pay for the job and a breakthrough of old practices. Our men and women would get great rates of pay and our clients would pay the right rate. Everyone would be as Happy as Larry.
What exactly happened was that the whole caboodle failed to change anything other than regulation of the British Standards which were already there in the first place. The initial training was not fit for purpose. At the best it was superficial and at the worst fabricated. Most of all individuals were charged £220.00 (now £210) every three years for the joy of mostly earning the minimum wage. In addition to this there were separate charges on the individual for different licences, if they wished to work across the licensable sectors. The big wage increases we all thought were coming never did – but of course the licence charges continued.
As margins were squeezed or non-existent, companies found that training and development of staff was the last thing they thought about. Again at best, it was cursory and at the worst downright criminal. Some companies claimed training costs from various bodies and then quite happily falsified training records. I knew one company who put 120 staff through an Event Stewarding NVQ Level 3 and not a single officer ever entered a classroom or sat an exam. God knows what would have happened if there had been an emergency situation in and arena or stadium in which those officers were deployed.
Throughout all my observations of the darker side of the industry I worked with and alongside many officers who regardless of pay rate and conditions had self-developed skills and possessed attributes that amazed me. When I had the opportunity to reinvent GSTS as to what it is today, I decided that I would try and develop these skills through specialist training and we would end up with individuals who were highly competent and trained at levels were realistic pay rates would be a given.
That is where we find ourselves today, and I am extraordinarily proud that when we negotiate a new contract we now do so on ethical grounds. We have effectively broken the mould of how professional security services are procured.
On all our clients contracts – staff are:
– Paid at time and a quarter for overtime over 48 hours per week.
– Have any regular overtime calculated in their yearly leave allocation.
– Paid at rates well above the NMW.
– Paid at a premium rate for any overtime that is not covered by above.
– Have regular and agreed yearly wage increases.
At long last, security staff are getting what they so rightly deserve.