February 17, 2012 : G4S faces multinational strikes

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Adam Mynott, the BBC world correspondent who became G4S' Director of Media Relations in September, may have realised over the last month just how big a turd he has to polish, as his new company was accused of underpaying and overworking its employees in Nepal, South Korea and Malawi.

In Nepal, workers at Himal Power Limited (HPL) went on hunger strike after their jobs were taken by new workers recruited by G4S. HPL, which operates the first hydropower plant in the country to be constructed by the private sector, had contracted G4S to provide services including healthcare, security, gardening, cleaning and food management. The strike ended after the HPL management consented to put their agreement with G4S on hold but protests have continued, with workers in the Khimti Hydroelectric Nepal Free Chemical and Iron Workers´ Union demanding to work for HPL directly. The company maintains that they can either work for G4S or retire and, since the agitation, HPL has offered a bonus of three months’ salary for each year served if workers chose to retire, or a bonus of a month’s salary for each year already worked if they chose to join G4S.

Meanwhile in South Korea, security guards at military installations around the country refused to transfer to G4S, complaining the company wants them to work longer hours for lower wages. US soldiers have had to guard the sites in their place as the government is refusing to reconsider its decision to hire the UK-based outsourcing company, due to the lower costs it is charging.

And in Malawi, investigations by the local Sunday Times newspaper found that G4S workers are struggling to live on their meagre wages, with some having to work extra jobs in order to supplement their income. The workers said they may have to go on strike if their conditions do not improve.

It is not known whether Mynott will be joining his new colleagues on the picket line.