G4S: Globalising Injustice

G4S, the world’s largest private security company, represents the new ideology of security in a neoliberal world. The company’s rapid growth is driven by the privatisation of security, warfare, prisons and a range of public services.

G4S is emblematic of the British Private Military and Security industry. War on Want is calling on G4S to end its complicity in human rights violations across the world.

Update: G4S announced in March that it would sell its entire Israeli business in the next two years. It has since reneged on its promise. Find out more: G4S reneges on promise to exit Israel

'G4S shame on you'

 

How G4S makes its money

Supporting Israeli Apartheid

G4S provides services to the Israeli prison system making it complicit in the illegal occupation of Palestine and the unlawful imprisonment of Palestinians, including children. By outsourcing occupation-related work to G4S, the Israeli state frees itself from accountability for human rights violations and breaches of international laws.

G4S provides:

  • security services and systems to prisons in Israel known to hold political prisoners without charge or trial and child prisoners between the ages of 12-17.
  • security services to detention and interrogation centres known for torturing prisoners, including children.  
  • equipment and services to Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank that form part of the route of Israel’s illegal Apartheid Wall.

Privatising government services

G4S’s role in the privatisation of government services in the UK has led to a trail of financial and human rights abuses. G4S has been an important ‘outsourcing partner’ for the UK government, covering a wide range of services including military, justice, police and welfare. The most controversial part of the company’s business with the government includes prison and immigration services. The problems of connecting prison services to corporate profit have quickly revealed themselves.

G4S faced a fraud investigation into overcharging the government between 2005 and 2013 for electronic tagging of prisoners. G4S agreed to repay £109 million plus tax for overcharging on contracts after it became apparent that G4S (and its main competitor Serco) were defrauding the government and charging for dead prisoners and in some cases prisoners outside the country.

Profiting from conflict

In the world’s conflict zones, G4S seeks out new profit opportunities, escalating militarisation and increasing instabilityG4S exploits state crises caused by wars, regime change and state failure.

Hired by governments and companies to perform operations previously carried out by national military forces, private military and security companies are the modern equivalent of mercenaries: armed civilians operating for profit in conflict zones. G4S is one of the UK’s most reviled companies engaged in conflict related profit making the world over.

Violating workers’ rights

The handsome profit G4S earns from contributing to global injustice goes to its top managers, shareholders, investors and advisers, who connect the global giant to government contracts. Employees of G4S, on the other hand, have faced precarious labour contracts and poor working conditions, leading to disputes in over a dozen countries.

An agreement reached between Union Network International (UNI) and G4S in 2008 covers, in theory, all the workers G4S employs globally. According to the agreement, G4S will respect rights defined by ILO Conventions covering freedom of association, the use of forced labour and child labour, and discrimination at work. However, the framework agreement has been unable to force the company to comply with international labour standards or local labour laws. 

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