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Guards buckle under misery as labour calls security companies

By: Kelvin Chiringa

The labour ministry is scheduled to meet security companies to discuss working conditions this week as security guards lament poor salaries, discriminatory labour policies and terrible working conditions.

The Villager understands that the companies will engage at the labour commissioner’s office to deliberate on the status of the Security Enterprises and Security Officers Act (Act 19 of 1998).

They will sit around striking a collective deal for a minimum wage and adjustment of existing level 2016 as well as to map the way forward.

The tough economic bind has eroded consumers’ purchasing power, weakening their demand, and for security guards, it means getting pressed deeper in poverty.

The Villager got in touch with Windhoek based security workers who unanimously expressed that they were working as slaves, across the board.

Augustinus Museenge who said he worked for MGEES Protection Service lamented that salaries were being deducted as fines for unclear misconduct.

“Payslips come with deductions of fines without reasonable explanation. Like last month, I was sick and did not come to work but I got deducted for three days,’’ he said.

The 27-year-old said on top of this, his salary was not good enough to take care of himself and his family as it was no-where near N$5 000.

“We also need safe transportation. We are carried about in small cars and we are so many, we get to be cramped up,” he said, “I have two kids and we work like slaves.”

Another guard who decided to speak under the pseudonym Simon Eben said security companies were not sticking to their word when it comes to promises they make to them.

He said, by the demands of their policy, he is supposed to have his salary topped from N$8.75 per hour to N$10, but despite working for nearly two years now, there has not been any increment.

“Ideally we want our salaries to be made to go up to at least N$12 per hour. I know some one who has worked for four years now but he is still getting N$10. Most companies do not even increase salaries,” he said.

He also said there was discrimination in his work place.

“Those who work at night get an allowance. But truth is working during the day is equally demanding. We wish we could get the same allowance. But we are still not properly equipped, I just have a button stick here.”

“Yet we should at least have paper spray. If a thief comes, like here at the bank they bring guns and knives, we just run away,” he said.

Meanwhile, UNI Global Union accused security firms operating in Namibia of slavery for the way security guards are treated at work.

UNI Global Union is an international confederation of trade unions based in Switzerland which represents about 20 million service sector workers through 900 affiliate trade unions in 150 countries.

Most workers have no access to electricity, water, heat in winter or shade in the summer. Deaths sometimes occur as a result of poor safety requirements when workers are transported between work postings. There is no sick pay provision, so no work equals no pay. Absences are deducted at double rate from wages in the form of a replacement fee,” says the UNI report.

Kelvin Chiringa

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