Rosey Ngakopu – Wellington security guard through Alert Level 4

Rosey Ngakopu is a roaming security guard at Housing New Zealand sites in Wellington, employed by Armourguard, who have the contract for many government sites and buildings across New Zealand.

She used to work for Wellington City Council in City Housing as a community development assistant in their community action team, but had to find new work after her team was made redundant, so she became a guard.

“It wasn’t until I started working in security that I realised that most guards are on the minimum wage and stay on it for a long time,” Rosey says.

“You just can’t make ends meet that way. It means you have to work really long hours just to be about to provide the bare minimum for yourself and your family.”

Rosey has a school-aged son and wishes she could spend more time with him.

“I get home from work, after standing on my feet for a 12-hour shift, and I need to be able to then give my son the full attention he needs. Sometimes I’m not all there, and he can tell.”

As an essential worker, Rosey has been working through the Level 4 lockdown.

“It hasn’t been too bad working through the lockdown, a lot of the time it feels like a normal day at work.

“The hardest part has been trying to keep people following the rules during Level 4. We all want to make sure the community response is a success. There is a reason why we’ve been in lockdown, and it’s really important that security guards are part of making sure we all stay safe.

“Some people have been breaking the rules, unfortunately, and so we do have to stop people from visiting when they shouldn’t be.

It has been a balancing act though, as many of the vulnerable Housing NZ tenants have high needs.

“There are still nurses, community support workers, and other people that need to visit the tenants regularly to look after them. That’s why our role is so important – we make sure people follow the rules but also make sure people get the care they need.”

Rosey has been very careful to keep safe from COVID-19 while on the job.

“2 metre distancing, proper handwashing for 20 seconds, and all of that. We were lucky to get PPE provided to us by the employer – it took a bit of time but I understand why. I’m grateful that my employer is meeting all of our requests for things like masks and gloves at the moment.”

Many E tū members have been campaigning for the big structural changes that New Zealand needs to address low pay and some poor conditions in industries like security, including Rosey.

Rosey says:

“I’m lobbying for Fair Pay Agreements and for the Living Wage, because what we get paid now doesn’t reflect the mahi that we do. We need an industry standard for all guards – it doesn’t matter what security company they come from, we need pay standards that work for us all. It needs to go through parliament and it needs to pass.”