The Trade Union Congress Namibia (TUNCA) has described the long working hours that security guards are expected to work as ‘legalized slavery’.
The trade union has amplified calls for regulators to compel security firms to adhere to all labour laws, including working hours and decent monthly salaries. This has led to unions representing security guards accusing government of protecting the interests of employers at the expense of workers.
TUCNA secretary general Mahoronga Kavihuha this week condemned security companies that exploit guards.
He also castigated lawmakers “for not making it a priority to push for a national minimum wage that goes parallel with minimum working hours.”
“We should understand that the same people passing laws are capitalists with business interests so let us not expect much from them when it comes to workers in general.
They try to twist the laws in order to suit their pockets. We all know that about 80 per cent of our lawmakers have businesses, some in the security industry, so do we really expect them to make decisions in the interest of their workers,” queried Kavihuha.
The trade, mostly comprising of unskilled workers, has over the years become a cash-cow for overnight businessmen. This is evident considering the mushrooming of security companies in recent years.
Kavihuha also alleged that laws are not as innocent as portrayed saying they are a manifestation of the elite.
“This is why we still have fellow Namibians who work up to 15 hours in this country,” he lamented.
The Patriot spoke to a security guard from a local security company who also complained over the long working hours and low wages. “I work from 17h00 to 08h00 daily and only get N$1900 monthly. There is no overtime and the salaries are always delayed. If I work two nights, that means I would have earned the company enough money to cater for my salary, the rest is their profits” said a dejected Amon Shilunga.
Shilunga, who joined the trade because of the pressure to feed his family, said it is very difficult to practice a savings culture.
“After paying my rent and food, he explained, the remaining funds are hardly enough to get me through the month.
You complain and all they tell you is that they too have not yet received money from their clients. Many guys join and leave after a few months because of the long working hours and low salaries. The bosses do not care because they will always get people from outside to fill the posts,” he said.
TUCNA reminded security bosses to stick to the eight hours shift per day.
“Fifteen hours of work is not productive. It is against human dignity and deprives the human being from spending time with his family.
Come to think of it, it is a brutal exercise and legalised slavery,” said Kavihuha.
There is a general perception that owners of security service companies rake in huge profits monthly, which falls short of reasons why those who sweat for the money do not get even half of the money they make for the employers.
According to a quotation send to this publication from one of the popular security companies, name withheld, the firm charges clients at least N$6 175.50 per month.
The quote clearly stipulates that night shifts from Mondays to Saturdays are between 18h00 to 06h00.
This is the same for Sundays and public holidays.
As per the Labour Act, it is against the law for any worker to work more than 60 hours in any week, and in any case, not more than 12 hours on any day.