Former attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj has pledged to help the Estate Police Association (EPA) fight the "injustices" from their employers even as the government moves to change the law to regularise the industry.
He said he intends to appoint a team of lawyers to work alongside him to help the EPA to see if a constitutional case can be done to compel the government to redress the situation.
Maharaj said precepted officers, those authorised to carry firearms, perform the same duties as police and many work for state agencies. But the estate officers’ rights are restricted as they do not have the protection of a union.
"They put their lives on the line and run the possibility every day of not making it back home," Maharaj said.
Maharaj, via a live recording, spoke at a press conference at the association’s headquarters in Marabella on Saturday.
Some precepted officers, he said, are denied their annual leave and even maternity leave.
He added that overtime for estate constables starts after 12 hours, whereas overtime is paid after eight hours for most jobs.
It is common for officers to work 24 hours straight without overtime benefits.
He charged that some employers victimise workers for taking part in the association’s activities.
The association's president Deryck Richardson recalled that the Private Security Industry Bill and amendments to the Supplemental Police Act recently went before the Senate.
He once again accused the Government of trying to destroy the association with the proposed amendments.
"We are looking at fixing this blatant injustice against workers that allow private companies to continue to abuse, take advantage of, victimise, discriminate against people who are bringing them their daily bread," Richardson said.
He said some companies pay the proper allowances for various types of leave, and many do not.
He called on all estate and security officers to join the association on July 16 in a motorcade from San Fernando to Port of Spain to highlight the issues.
Richardson also called for the opposition, independent senators, civil society, and interest groups to support the cause.