Games walkout: ‘Someone answer their f**king radio’
IT'S Saturday night on the Gold Coast, the fourth day of the Commonwealth Games, and a senior security guard is furiously talking on his mobile phone.
"I just need someone to answer their f**king radio," he says, before hanging up.
"I have no idea if anybody is even at the venue, if they've signed on or if they've signed off," he tells news.com.au.
The senior guard is trying to organise the workers he's hoping are at the beach volleyball in Coolangatta. It's been more than half an hour of radio silence.
It's just one of the stories faced by the original 4300 security guards hired for the international sporting event, hundreds of whom have already walked off the job.
Speaking to news.com.au on the condition of anonymity, a number of guards have revealed the poor work ethic and disregard some of the hired security have brought to the games - admitting they often have no idea if they're even at the venues.
"You just need somebody to show up and maybe answer a radio, we're not asking for much seriously," he said.
"The miscommunication is getting to a point now where they could probably turn up, go and have a nap under a tree for a few hours and we'd have no idea."
Another senior security manager spoke about a certain guard having no regard for authority and refusing to listen to orders given to them by their managers.
"Sometimes you need to space the guards out to make sure the entire area is covered but this one guard honestly couldn't even wait five minutes until they had to wander over to a co-worker and start having a chat. As a guard, that's not how it works," he said.
Dozens of dignitaries, politicians and international business moguls have already paid the Gold Coast a visit for the Commonwealth Games - even Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall dropped in last week.
But senior security guards told news.com.au they had genuine concerns about using flown in guards on jobs where they'd be protecting higher risk visitors.
"I had an older guard come up to me and say, 'Just letting you know, I need to go to the toilet a lot'," he said, laughing.
"I can't protect dignitaries with people who, five minutes before the actual job starts and the person turns up, come to me and say 'can I go to the bathroom?'"
While admitting that a number of the flown in workers have struggled with less than ideal conditions, the senior guard said the disorganisation has a lot to do with the industry itself.
"The fact of the matter is that most security guards you'll come across in this industry are absolutely hopeless. The reality of the industry is that you need to hire your mates otherwise you know everything will go wrong. You need people you can trust," he said.
In the past five weeks, almost 400 Commonwealth Games security guards have walked off the job - nine per cent of the total hired for the event.
The high attrition rate, which Games organisers said is actually less than they were expecting, comes amid worrying reports guards are being forced to sleep on the grass while awaiting late-night transport from the venues, according to the Gold Coast Bulletin.
Guards also told the publication the buses that are supposed to transport them to the venues are unreliable.
"I've been paying for taxis and Ubers but that all comes out of our own pockets," the guard said.
"And a lot of us have only been rostered on for five or six shifts over the whole Games, so we won't be going home with much money.
"We've left our families at home for two weeks but are only working a few shifts - they are oversubscribed with guards."
Commonwealth Games head of security Danny Baade confirmed but downplayed the grass napping reports, explaining that occasionally the buses used to transport guards take longer than expected.
"If I was a guard finishing night work and I found a nice piece of soft grass and a bit of shade, I would probably take a break too," he told the Brisbane Times.
Mr Baade said approximately 390 guards had walked off the job - all of which had already been replaced. 5700 security were given accreditation for the games, purely for that reason.
Despite the high number mere days into the Games, organisers were expecting more guards to have walked off, claiming at least 20 per cent of security generally quit big events similar to the Commonwealth Games.
The attrition rate has been attributed to a variety of reasons including personal problems and issues with shift times but the overwhelming majority appear to have left because of bare bones accommodation and widespread disorganisation.
A group of guards complained after they were sent to stay in Mount Tamborine, more than an hour from the Gold Coast, in an extremely basic school camp complex.
Glenn Conroy from United Voice Union slammed the security shambles, explaining the kinds of conditions workers were staying in to 9News.
"Some of the accommodation is atrocious. It's unhealthy. We've had reports of mice, cockroaches and lice," Mr Conroy said. "Security officers are leaving in droves."
Comm Games bosses are becoming increasingly frustrated about questions on security issues.
At a press conference on the weekend, GOLDOC boss Mark Peters said the issues had been "exaggerated".
"We would say there's probably exaggeration and a few of the issues have been taken a bit beyond what reality is, " Mr Peters said.
"Security is in a really good place and hopefully you all stop asking questions and we can get on with our job."
Queensland Police is also maintaining a heavy presence at the Commonwealth Games, taking the total security workforce to 10,000.