Security guards demo off

A dispute was declared following unsuccessful salary negotiations between unions and the Security Association of Namibia (SAN).

27 October 2016 | Labour

A mass demonstration involving roughly 17 000 security guards across the country, which was scheduled to take place today, has been postponed indefinitely.

Union officials yesterday said the nationwide peaceful demonstration was put on hold to allow the authorities, including the police, sufficient time to mobilise resources.

“We apologise to our members for the postponement. But we want to follow the correct procedures in terms of informing the police,” Kandondo Simon Kandondo, general-secretary of the Namibian Independent Security Union (NISU) said. Wage negotiations between the unions and the Security Association of Namibia (SAN) are at a deadlock and a dispute was declared earlier this month.

Namibia Security Guards and Watchman Union (NASGWU) Secretary-General Andreas Hausiku yesterday said the relevant parties are currently waiting for a conciliator to be appointed by the labour commissioner to assist in resolving the stalemate. The unions are demanding a 71% increase in wages, which SAN has countered with a 25% raise in return. The current entry-level wage is N$6.75 per hour, with the unions demanding N$12.50 per hour across the board at entry level while SAN countered with an entry wage of N$7.50 per hour and N$8.75 per hour for employees with a year or longer service. SAN members last week said they are committed to better wages in the industry and were willing to negotiate but would not comply with “exorbitant” demands.

Kandondo yesterday said the date of the demonstration will be announced as soon as authorities give the go-ahead. He emphasised that the demonstration is not off the table.

The unions representing the security guards include NASGWU, NISU, the Namibian Transport and Allied Workers union (NATAU), with support from the Trade Union Congress of Namibia (Tucna).

Last week, National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) Secretary-General Job Muniaro was quoted as saying that security guards work in similar circumstances as police officers, but with significantly lower wages and working conditions. He warned that a strike action could pose a severe threat to the country''s security if all 17 000 or more security guards abandon their posts.

“Security guards ensure that you sleep safely in your home.

“They contribute 70% of the country''s safety for N$7 per hour,” he pointed out. The unions have expressed concern about various abuses of working conditions in the industry, as well as pay, which they claim are not monitored or addressed by government.

This issue was raised last week by SAN Chairperson Levi Shigwedha, who pointed out that since the launch of the Namibian Security Labour Forum, companies who do not adhere to minimum wages as stipulated by Government Gazette have never been taken to task, despite reports from SAN members. However, Shigwedha said none of the unions had addressed the matter.

He said that an argument can be made that this is partly a result of an absence of approved regulations for the industry, as well as the “mushrooming of the so called ''fly-by night or brief case'' entities.” Shigwedha noted that SAN''s main focus is customer satisfaction as well as job security “while the union''s main focus is increments and higher quantities of members, regardless of the quantities.”

He said it is a “proven fact that the focus is only on the SAN association companies when minimum wages are discussed.” He admitted that inequalities in the industry “cannot be denied.”



JANA-MARI SMITH

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