`Jobs ranging from domestic, work, petrol attendant and security guards are often regarded as second class citizens in society, so much so that some people will even prefer sitting at home unemployed instead of taking up such a job.
Security officers provide monitoring services for property owners to provide a safe environment and prevent violence. Not only do Petrol attendants add petrol to a vehicle, they also conduct routine service checks such as: checking fluid levels, tyre pressure, cleaning windshields etc.
Domestic workers provide essential services that enable others to work outside their homes. Thus domestic workers help keep labour markets and economies working around the globe.
Despite the importance of such jobs, many employed to do them continue to be looked at through the inferior lens. In fact, many occupying these professions are unhappy with the perception society has about their work.
Gabriel Nekundi a security officer with the G4S security company said his job is important even if those he protects pay little attention to his work.
Nekundi says they are not valued as security guards. “You get some people who will look at you merely as a security guard.” According to Nekundi it is also reflective in their salaries. “Security guards are amongst the lowest paid workers in Namibia.”
“Although some of us work in open areas the whole day without sitting in an office like everybody else, it does not mean we are inferior,” he said.
A proud Nekundi said, the negative perceptions do not stop him from carrying out his work. “I am doing a good job because I am not only guarding properties but the nation as well.” The presence of a security officer on the premises often serves as a deterrent to potential lawbreakers. Security guards work in public and private buildings, as well as retail and wholesale establishment’s . A security officer plays many different roles, but the primary task is to prevent crime,” he said.
Anita Apollus, who has been a domestic worker for close to a decade now, said she has no issues with her job.
“Sometimes when you have a difficult boss then it is not easy and you might not enjoy your job. Nowadays young girls are ashamed of telling people that they are domestic workers, but as time goes by they become more comfortable and eventually stop being ashamed of what they do,” she said.
She said her duties include cleaning the houses, doing laundry, shop, cook, care for the children.
Nashilundo Gebhardt a cleaner with Royal cleaning services says cleaners are very important in Namibia.
“Windhoek is one of the cleanest cities and this is because people co-operate with the cleaners. The public should respect cleaners, because when I clean public places I am not doing it for myself but to keep the environment clean and make all operate in a clean environment,” said Gebhardt.
Another security guard, Moses Shikufinde, a security guard with Kakwaya security services, said he does not want to be referred to as a security guard because most people think being a guard is not a real job.
“People don’t even respect you and they see you as somebody who is merely struggling trying to make ends meet.” Shikufinde said. He added that when people have difficulties especially withdrawing money at ATM machines they would rather ask a stranger than a guard on duty and when the stranger robs them then they turn to the security guard.
Another security guard who chose to speak on condition of anonymity said he works at an ATM and when people come by they do not even recognize his presence.
“When they have difficulties withdrawing that is when they call you. But if I ask the client why he/she did not greet me, they tell me that as a security guard it is my job to assist the public.”
As security guards we play an important role because we protect the public and their property, the guard said. “The government should at least implement some sort law that will compel people to respect us for us to be paid better.”
A cleaner who chose to remain anonymous said people in general do not treat cleaners the same way they would treat those working in other professions.
“We also work long hours but unfortunately that is not reflected in our salaries. I am expected to feed my family with the N$1700 I earn monthly.
“Those of us who work for private companies do not have any benefits whether medical aid, housing allowance or even pension.”
Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) chief executive officer (CEO) Tarah Shaanika during a brief interview yesterday underscored the importance of those considered to be in second class professions.
“People in these professions increase productivity at work places. Those that are served directly by people in those professions can only be productive if they feel secured at work and a clean environment while their homes are taken care of during working hours,” commented Shaanika.