NAIROBI, Kenya Mar 18 – Private security guards are threatening to down their tools in the next three weeks unless the government and Parliament fast-track a bill seeking to regulate their operations.
Kenya National Private Security Workers Union General Secretary Isaac Andabwa said they will give the government a 21-day strike notice on Monday.
“We have been cheated for long, our members are suffering because it appears the government does not have any plans to regulate this sector,” Andabwa said. “We are giving a notice tomorrow (Monday). We will go on strike in three weeks time.”
He told journalists in Nairobi Sunday that the union is disappointed by the government’s slow pace in reforming the private security sector which has been neglected for many years.
The Private Security Industry Regulation Bill 2010 which outlines a raft of measures to be taken in reforming the security sector has been pending in Parliament for the last two years.
“The government cannot say Parliament has no time to debate our Bill because we have seen Members of Parliament wasting a lot of time even discussing stolen letters about the British Government and the ICC,” he said.
The Bill calls for the registration of all security firms, training of its personnel and proper remuneration for all private security guards.
The union is particularly disappointed because despite pledges by the Labour Ministry every year that the minimum wage for the private security guards will be increased, guards have continued to earn as little as Sh3000.
The union officials told journalists that they had written to the Labour Minister John Munyes on several occasions but no response has been forthcoming.
“We have never heard from the Minister, we only hear of pledges which are never implemented and that is why we are tired, we must act. And that is why we want to go on strike,” Andabwa said.
The union’s National Chairman Elijah Manani said they have realised that unless the government is pressurised, guards across the country will continue to suffer.
Private security guards play a vital role in maintaining security because they are the ones who guard various buildings and various other vital installations in the country.
If they make good their threat to strike, Kenya is likely to face a major security challenge.
“If we go on strike, there will be no one to guard the banks and other buildings around, even the Judiciary is guarded by our people, and can you imagine if we go on strike what will happen?” Andabwa posed.