Forgettable Experiences Working at a New Zealand Security Company

I have been working for an undisclosed security company in New Zealand for approximately one year. From my time working in security I have found there is serious breach of basic human rights, breaks, holiday entitlements and sick leave. Additionally, there is a large amount of favouritism that arises from working in security.

In New Zealand the minimum wage is $13 per hour (As per April 2011). Many security officers start on 13.50, although I was fortunate enough to start on $14- or so I thought.

I worked on a casual basis at various events around New Zealand and often the Manager would state we would get a specific rate for the weekend ($200) and I would agree to the offer.

What I found was I was only being paid for the “hours”, not the fixed rate- so after tax I would receive $120 (before tax) for the hours I had done over the weekend.

Also, to add insult to injury, at other events where I would be paid hourly, I would work 9-12 hours and not be allowed a 30 minute lunch break or even a 10 minute smoke break. You had to ask permission to go to the bathroom or even get a drink of water (and frequently I was denied that basic entitlement). Eventually after doing these shifts I would relieve myself and drink water when I needed to, much to the managers dismay.

I was also treated as a “casual” staff member yet I was given two (and later on 3) permanent shifts a week, to fit in around my university schedule. That was fine, although I was always harassed to work more; my employer did not understand that I could not work more at the time. There were also times I did work and only at my own generosity, where no one else would- which meant at least half a dozen times coming into work at short notice and being expected to stay far beyond the hours I would agree to.

Additionally I would ask for certain postings, to gain experience or better hours to suit my tertiary study; I was told this would be done, but throughout my employment I was always passed over (possibly because I would ask for my minimum entitlements).

I was not given a contract to read or to sign and I was threatened a few times with losing shifts if I would not do a specific shift or cover for someone (A particularly cruel action for any university student that currently has exams).

Supervisors and Managers would lie to staff about entitlements, roles on the job and pay for each shift done (Once I was told I would be getting $20 per hour and yet I received $14 per hour). This was a huge inconvenience for me and caused me a bit of hardship especially around payday for the following week). I enquired at work to the pay rate and they said they would get back to me about the matter.

That never happened.

When I finished my tertiary study around mid November I talked to work and told them I could do any shifts required and I asked if it was possible to gain full time over the summer. They said they would see what they could do. I did not put any pressure on them to provide me with these hours, as I stated if they could not provide me with additional work, I would find something else and stick to the permanent hours I was currently doing for the company (approx. 15 hours).

So I got 2 weeks of 35 hours of work, which was fine and I was happy with the pay rate for the job (16 per hour). There was a new manager I was dealing with that ensured I got breaks, decent equipment and welfare calls on the job. So I have no complaints over those 2 weeks. Unfortunately, he left the job due to unfair treatment from the owner/manager and low pay.

Now around new years 2012 I got a text from my boss asking if I would like to work for him for a few days (at $10 per hour under the table). I did not reply back as for one I don’t work illegally and I pay my tax in accordance with the law and two, I find that rate per hour quite insulting.

Two weeks after new years I informed work I had a new position where I was working shift work full time and that I may not be able to do these permanent shifts, but I would try my best to make myself available for any other shifts that may need to be filled. I also asked to work in hospitality as a bouncer and I was told when I began my employment that I would be offered this opportunity.

This opportunity never came.

I texted my boss (that’s how he communicates with staff) and I told him unfortunately I could not work one shift but could be available for the other. His response was” I may as well hand in my uniform and go somewhere else”. I said back in text, “I am trying my best to make both jobs work and I will be able to work other shifts ie door work at local bars”.

He offered me the same shifts and told me in a subtle way that I don’t have the skills required to work in bars. Seeing as how we have people that use a lot of profanity and aggressiveness as door staff, I find that hard to believe that I can’t do the job in a polite and fair way).

And yet, at the positions I have worked at, I have thrown out people out of venues twice the size of me (i’m 6’2, 85 kg and of an athletic build).  So, I decided that was enough for me. I resigned. I had enough of the favouritism, the lack of breaks, the deliberate misleading and the breach of basic human rights. I have heard stories that I may not even get my holiday pay, as the manager will try hold onto it. Oh well, I will cross that bridge when I come to it.

I realise some of you will read this and think I’m just having a whinge and in a way I am. Yes, I could have worked more over my time at Uni, but when I applied for the position I was told the job is as flexible as I am and that I can rise up in this company. Security is often, a tough job to do, as you will get assaulted by some members of the public, given antisocial hours and left alone hours on end. Often, the police are slow to arrive on any scene and more often than not I have been given inadequate tools for the job (no torch, ripped jacket, broken radio).

I have also come across some security guards in the company that have had similar/same treatment. There are great disparities in pay, where some guards receive minimum wage and others receive $20 per hour and these staffs often do similar shifts that I will do.

So that’s my take on security and a job in New Zealand that I would highly recommend you avoid. Look into each company first and research their employment history and values.

I could add on additional issues I have had but I would be going on about it for a while longer and I would like to leave the sh*t of this job behind me.

I can tell you now, the firm I worked for are in the news for cheating people and discrimination and I am sure you will find them easily enough.