State supports non-compliant security firms

Tenders for security firms who flout the required legislation is undermining the industry and telling companies it's okay to not comply.

20 March 2019 | Business

Employers and trade unions agree that one of the major issues facing the Namibian security services industry is that some government institutions continue to appoint non-compliant companies who refuse to pay legal minimum wages to security guards.

Another issue they are unanimous on is the need for government to strengthen its requirements for awarding tenders, warning that the state empowers non-compliant companies which in turn gives the impression that it's okay to not adhere to industry regulations.

The labour ministry's executive director Bro-Matthew Shinguadja last week met with private security service providers and relevant trade unions to look at the various concerns and shortcomings facing the industry.

Among the issues raised by the trade unions were the late payment of workers, unlawful deductions of salaries, anti-union attitudes by some employers, sexual harassment at workplaces especially towards female security officers, lack of employment contracts and pay slips, and the “awarding of state tenders to non-compliant companies at the expense of compliant firms”.

Many of these issues were also laid on the table by compliant security firms who have broached the issue of widespread non-compliance and lack of accountability and oversight for many years.

Last year Namibian Sun reported that an estimated 80% of Namibian security firms are believed to be non-compliant, refusing to pay the minimum wage, and breaching a host of other regulations.

Security Association of Namibia (SAN) president Hans Miljo told Namibian Sun at the time that the association believes that besides the 48 security firms operating under the SAN umbrella, an estimated 200 to 300 security companies operate in Namibia, most under the radar and in breach of regulations, including minimum pay and other labour related laws.

Last week, SAN representatives and trade unions agreed that a key issue that adds to the widespread non-compliance is government institutions awarding security tenders to non-compliant companies which “empowers them unfairly and in a way gives a wrong impression that it is okay not to comply”.

The employers' association also emphasised the need for and the importance of providing training to employees before they are dispatched to provide services.

At the talk last week, safety and security ministry representatives informed the participants of a review of the Security Enterprises and Security Officers Act of 1998 and that the private security service providers will be consulted in due time for their inputs.

The Act serves the purpose of establishing a security enterprises and security officers' regulation board to regulate the registration of companies and security officers, and to establish a fidelity guarantee fund, amongst other items.

At the conclusion of the meeting Shinguadja assured participants their concerns will be raised at the relevant platforms and urged them to alert the ministry of anyone violating the provision of laws and to report non-compliant companies.

JANA-MARI SMITH

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