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G4S and UNI sign global agreement

G4S, the world’s largest security solutions group, and UNI, the global union federation, have today announced that they have reached agreement on an Ethical Employment Partnership which will drive improvements in employment standards across the global security industry while helping to ensure that employee and union rights are respected throughout the company.

The agreement takes into account G4S’s unique geographic footprint and is expected to play an important role in raising standards across the developing markets in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and South America, which account for over two thirds of the Group’s 570,000 employees.

Global multinationals like G4S have a critical role to play in raising standards for workers and their families in these markets, where G4S is often the industry leader. The agreement aims to drive through improvements in industry standards, employment conditions and wages, and have a positive effect not only on the company’s employees but on their families and the communities in which they live and work.

It also recognises that a company’s social and ethical responsibility should cross borders and will help G4S to ensure that its ethical policies relating to employment are fully implemented. The agreement provides a process and a forum for continuous improvement and resolution of concerns and makes clear that employees have the right to organise unions in a free and fair atmosphere.

G4S is the second largest private employer in the world. The Group’s international expansion in recent years and the mix of labour practices prevailing in some developing markets mean that a global approach to labour relations is appropriate to ensure consistency in union and employee relations. Discussions with the GMB and UNI over the last year have resulted in an agreement which protects the needs of G4S’ employees, customers and shareholders.

Jenni Myles, Director of Employee Engagement & HR at G4S plc, commented: “As a market leader with a major exposure to developing markets G4S is in a strong position to help improve employment standards across the security industry. G4S has a long history of building positive relationships with employees and their representatives - our relationship with the GMB in the UK has been in place for more than 40 years. We have been considering whether an agreement with UNI is appropriate for a number of years, and began serious discussions with the assistance of the GMB union back in 2007.

Our ethical standards have always been high, and we have demonstrated that these standards apply, in practice as well as principle, everywhere that we operate. We take our responsibilities as a global leader very seriously and our new partnership with UNI is designed to support the raising of employment standards to even higher levels, and with its help we believe we can improve standards not just in G4S but in the wider business community.”

Jenni continued: “We believe our employees, customers and investors will see the value in this global partnership and that we now have a real opportunity to work together with UNI for the benefit of all of our stakeholders.”

Philip Jennings, General Secretary of UNI, added: “We welcome this agreement as a first for a British employer in the services sector. A global company working with a global union is the way forward for a sustainable business model. Global agreements are an integral part of a genuine corporate social responsibility policy and enable us to grow together. This agreement represents an opportunity for progress for the many thousands of workers who want to improve their lives through building unions and is intended to raise standards across the many markets where G4S operates.”

Paul Kenny, General Secretary of the GMB Union added: “We are pleased that we have been able to assist in facilitating a meaningful dialogue between G4S and UNI which is good for G4S employees all over the world. Our experience of working with G4S has always been constructive and we know that together, we will drive up standards across the industry and deliver benefits to the G4S international workforce.”