Decent working conditions for security staff at the San José embassy
News item | 05-11-2021
Ambassadeur Christine Pirenne met bewaker residentie
Decent working hours and wages
In Costa Rica, people are not allowed to work more than 48 hours a week. But this is only the case on paper. Security guards sometimes work on several projects, or have a second job with another company. To prevent exploitation of security guards, the mission included a requirement in the procurement notice that employees would have to be issued with contracts not exceeding 48 hours a week, and would seldom be required to work overtime. They would also work exclusively for the embassy.
This proved successful: the current guards earn a decent salary, higher than the minimum wage. They all have an employment contract and work normal hours, with no double shifts. But when one of the security guards was spotted wearing the uniform of a different security firm, the embassy decided to give the supplier a good talking to. It turned out they were not aware he was moonlighting and took immediate action.
Diversity and gender equality
In order to create more job opportunities for women, the companies invited to submit tenders were asked to include a plan of action for achieving more diversity in their workforce.
"The team of guards should be as diverse as possible and companies will explain in their proposal how they strive to achieve a gender balance in the team.”
This criterion proved to be more of a bottleneck. The number of tenders received was disappointing, so that the embassy couldn’t be too choosy. The company that was awarded the contract stated that they were working on a better gender balance in their team, but that there are simply not enough women security guards. And the few women who do work in this sector seldom speak English – another procurement requirement.
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