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Private security firms on the spot over exploiting employee

Dennis Avokoywa



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Private security firms on the spot over exploiting employee

Some private security firms based in Western are once again in a spot after their employees accused them of exploitation.

Papaton Security Servicers Limited one of the firms operating in Western is among others whose employees claim to have suffered in the hands of the management.

Samuel Wesonga, 39, a former Assistant Operations Manager at the company claims to have been fired in November last year after he demanded that the management pays him Sh40, 000 it owed him.

“I was forced to take a leave and was given marching orders when I reported back without being paid a single penny,” Wesonga told The Standard.

“They owed me March and November salaries, when I enquired the director put me off, I felt intimidated and gave up, many people were being forced to proceed on leave,“said Wesonga.

Since then his many attempts of reaching out to Papaton director Nancy Kasoha and Collins Ayugu, a ward representative in Vihiga believed to be a co-owner of the company have proved futile.

“The owners are so arrogant and don’t treat people well, they would pay employees whenever they wanted and breach contracts at will without anyone bringing them to book,the MCA is using his privileged position to frustrate justice,” added agitated  Wesonga.

It is not any different for Samuel Isweka, 24, who served as a guard and later transitioned to a driver claimed to be owed over Sh 70,000, a debt he says has accrued over a period of time running from November 2018 to February this year.

“What annoys me is that he is not remorseful, some of us have been thrown outside by landlords as we can’t pay rent, he is not showing any commitment in paying us, he tells you to your face that we can take him nowhere,” said Isweka.

Kevin Iyati,24, claimed to have been assaulted by Ayugu on Monday when demanded Sh26, 000 owed by the security firm.

He reported the matter at Kakamega Central Police number under OB NO 30/08/03/2021.   “I was recruited in November 2018 as a guard but was later promoted to a driver,” said Iyati.

According to Iyati, he was assaulted by Ayugu at the company offices within Kakamega town.

Joseph Madegwa Atira, 64, who used to work at the same company alongside his son had to quit as a training officer after the employer was reluctant to pay him.

“In July 2019, Mr Ayugu, who is in charge of the daily operations started behaving funny ,clients would pay but he could not do the same to us, it was not only the guards but other staff, the company owes me Sh 17,000 and part of August pay, I resigned when I realized he could not pay, my son too quit,” said Madegwa.

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“If the law was to be followed the MCA and his co-partner would be arrested, they have mistreated many people, and there are others who have reported him to authorities but he appears to be extremely influential,” argued Madegwa.

Colins Karani Kiprop,25, who has been working in the company since August 2018 has vowed to do all it takes to have the firm pay him his debt.

“They should pay me my Sh 30,00,including salary for March last year and the first two months of this year, we plan to write to public procurement regulatory authority to withdraw the licenses of granting the firm tenders of offering security services,” said Kiprop.

Nancy Kasoha, whose name the security firm is registered on dismissed the allegations leveled against the management when contacted for a comment.

She argued that those making the allegations could be out to malign her name and the reputation of the company.

“Those things are not true, as far as we are concerned we do not owe anyone of them, how can a security guard be paid that much, its illogical, we like any other company have hitches, those grumbling have disciplinary issues with the company,” said Kasoha.

Ayugu, who has been accused by the employees of high handedness was reluctant to comment on the issues raised.

He told Tuko on the phone that he will not be intimidated to comment on the matter and that he owes no one an explanation.

“You can write whatever you want, I can’t be intimidated, if you like to tell the international media but just know this is not over,” said the ward representative on the phone before dropping the call.

But Isaak Andabwa Experts believe that the spike in unemployment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is being capitalized on by some rogue firms.

Since authorities mandated to fight for their affairs have taken a back seat in the matter, most of these young people have either given up or are working in the whims of their employers who pay them when and the way they want.

The revelations however do not surprise National Security Guards representative Mr Isaac Andabwa who says that the government is to blame for the rise of the menace.

According to him, the surge of rogue security firms is attributed to lack of commitment in conducting a national crackdown on company’s enforcement of the minimum wage bill requirement as encapsulated in the constitution.

“It is child’s play and sheer double speak, during public holidays the state have been appealing to firms on effecting the minimum wage requirement but they do not follow up on the compliance hence rogue firms taking advantage of the situation, we are aware of such malpractices but our calls haven fallen on deaf ears,” said Andabwa.

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He says that out of 2000 registered security firms in the country, only ten foreign companies are operating in compliance with the dictates of the constitution as far as wages are concerned.

He says that while President Uhuru Kenyatta had good intentions when he gave a greenlight on the formation of a regulatory body that deals with such vices in 2016, the ministry of labour has done very little on curbing illegal operations of non-compliant firms.

He accused the state of not having the interests of low income earners like guards at heart. He says that despite rogue companies failing to meet the threshold of compliance, they are still handed contracts of offering security services.

“Out of that huge number, we can only count ten, the rest are quacks, worst of it all  is that the ones acting in compliance are denied tenders by the same government agencies that claims to be fighting for guards, this is sheer pretence,its the quacks  offering security services in  public Universities, hospitals ,schools and other facilities.

He adds that most firms are taking advantage that the young men and women employed as security guards have not joined or are prohibited from joining unions.

“When we formed the Kenya National Private Security Union our objective was to prevent such cases but the same has been frustrated as the various security agencies intimidate their members, in the same year more than 4000 people lost their jobs after they joined KNPSU.”

He adds that the threats and intimidation have made many guards suffer in silence to the point some are lying on their salaries for the sake of saving their jobs.

He also accused lawmakers of betrayal stating that they have done very little in ensuring the enforcement of the wage bill law of public servants.

“We took a raft of recommendations to them but they nullified all of them, there are guards working for a paltry Sh 3000, a month and the law makers appear unbothered, these are people with families yet the law is clear on how much they should be paid.”

He also claimed that the country loses billions of money every month by the continued operation of rogue firms who he says do not pay taxes.

According to him,Kisumu,Kisii,Kakamega ,Kitale and some parts of Nairobi are areas synonymous with exploitation of security guards.

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