G4S staff call for job security regardless of takeover outcome


G4S employees have written to the private security company and its hostile predator GardaWorld urging them to commit to securing staff jobs and conditions regardless of whether a £3bn takeover deal goes ahead.

In a formal letter to G4S shareholders, employees represented by their European Works Council argued that staff had already endured several waves of restructuring. 

They said their day-to-day experience showed it was impossible to continue increasing workloads in the hope of achieving higher margins.

“Neither GardaWorld nor G4S management sufficiently explain how they plan to increase value and achieve organic growth in the saturated and extremely competitive European private security market,” the employees said.

The letter was sent to G4S shareholders, who were last week advised by chairman John Connolly to vote against the 190p-per-share offer from its smaller Canadian rival GardaWorld.

GardaWorld is backed by private equity firm BC Partners, and G4S believes its £3bn offer is too cheap.

On Monday Bloomberg reported that G4S had recently rejected a bid closer to 210p a share from Allied Universal, a California-based security company with 200,000 staff. It may yet launch a rival offer, but there are concerns it would have competition issues in its largest market, the US. G4S declined to comment and Allied was unavailable.

The employees’ letter acknowledged that Stephen Crétier, the chief executive of GardaWorld, committed to “securing jobs” in the UK but asked for that pledge to be extended throughout the rest of the world.

It also called on both companies to honour existing pension agreements despite a £276m deficit in 2019.

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“If G4S management is serious about the company’s independence, it would be well placed to pledge their upcoming bonuses to narrow the gap in the first instance,” the employees argued.

Labour comprises 70 per cent of the company’s costs and in 2018 the median salary was £22,186, according to G4S.

PayScale, which tracks wages, says a G4S security guard earns an average £8.32 an hour and a security officer £8.15 an hour, while the Trades Union Congress says security guards earn almost £3 per hour less in the private sector compared with the public sector.

Ashley Almanza, G4S chief executive, earned £2.9m in 2018 and £1.48m in 2019, according to the company’s annual reports.

G4S is the world’s largest security company and operates in 80 countries. It has 530,000 staff and turnover of about £7.8bn compared with 102,000 staff and £2.1bn in revenue at GardaWorld.

G4S said it engaged with unions and works councils during restructuring programmes, which had been necessary to “reshape the company’s business portfolio and position it for growth”.

GardaWorld said that “subject to the outcome of a post-completion review”, it did not intend to make “any material change to the conditions of employment or the balance of skills of the employees of the G4S group”.

 



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