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Security Guards paid illegally at National Gallery of Victoria

Security Guards paid illegally at National Gallery of Victoria
March 11, 2017

The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) has come under scrutiny after allegations that its sub-contracted security guards have been underpaid.

An investigation by the ABC found that security guards at the Gallery were were illegally paid cash in hand, while others worked on weekends for a flat hourly rate below the award wage.

One guard told the ABC that he, and many other work colleagues, were paid in cash with a flat hourly rate on weekends, which was below the award with no tax or entitlements given.

He said when he had questioned the cash payment,​ his manager at the security company which employs him told him, ‘If you don’t want to do it, you have to leave.’

Another guard, Belinda Panaou told the ABC she was dismissed from her employment with a security contractor after raising concerns directly with NGV staff that she was being paid below the award flat rate.

Both guards were hired by the gallery’s security contractor Building Risks International Pty Limited (BRI Security), and then transferred to the sub-contractors, Java Security, and in the case of Panaou, National Security Group (NSG) Australia.

Panaou told the ABC: “It was $22.50 (per hour) a flat rate, every day, seven days a week. It didn't matter if I worked Saturday or Sunday.”

She added that the guards who were being paid in cash were favoured with more shifts.

The award minimum for a Level 1 security guard is $19.89 an hour, $29.84 an hour on Saturday and $39.78 an hour for Sunday work.

In response to the allegations, the Victorian Department of Treasury and Finance has appointed auditing firm KPMG to investigate, and may refer the allegations to the Fair Work Ombudsman.

A Departmental spokesman said in a statement "the department takes all such matters very seriously - an independent investigator was engaged as soon as these allegations were raised

"We received the investigator's final report this week … further action will be taken as appropriate, which includes referring the allegations to the Fair Work Ombudsman."

The National Gallery of Victoria declined to be interviewed but said in a statement BRI Security "was engaged through a Victorian Government State Purchase Contract with a vetted Department of Treasury and Finance (DTF) approved supplier".

BRI Security holds contracts to guard many well known institutions including the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Australian Council of the Arts, Public Record Office of Victoria, La Trobe University and the University of Western Sydney.

United Voice, the union representing security guards, said the Victorian Government should terminate BRI Security's contract at the NGV.

Victorian secretary Jess Walsh told the ABC “clearly there needs to be much stronger standards in the way the State Government awards its contracts.”

Walsh said sub-contracting within the security industry was at "epidemic" proportions, adding “we see this happening almost everywhere in the security industry at the moment.”

Click here to read the original article NGV: Investigation launched into claims guards illegally paid in cash at Victorian art gallery

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