Row persists over plan to arm guards

September 30, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 30 – Private security guards are threatening to go on strike in December unless the government gives priority to debate and enactment of the Private Security Industry Regulation Bill 2010.

Among the things the proposed Bill that is yet to be tabled in Parliament recommends, is the arming of private guards, which will be regulated by the government.

The Bill seeks an Act of Parliament to provide for the regulation of the private security industry and also establish and provide for the functions of a regulatory authority.

Kenya National Private Security Workers Union Secretary General Thomas Ochieng Alloyce told reporters on Thursday that the union would mobilise its members to down tools on December 1 if the government fails to act.

The union has a membership of 430,000 private security guards from all parts of the country.

“We hereby issue notice of intent to take industrial action inclusive of national strike before December 1, 2010 unless our grievances are urgently addressed,” Mr Ochieng said.

The union argues that there is need for private security guards in risky assignments like cash in transit and banks to possess firearms while on duty, as outlined in the Bill.

They also want the government to establish mechanisms which will regulate the private sector besides harmonising payment and remuneration for police officers and private security guards posted on the same assignments.

Other grievances raised include an urgent review and increase of house allowances given to private security guards from the current Sh1,026 to Sh5,300 per month.

The union also wants the Attorney General to de-register companies which do not pay private security guards minimum salaries of Sh7,326 per month.

But even as the union made the demands, the Consumer Federation of Kenya and the Kenya Private Sector Alliance insisted they would not support the proposal to arm private security guards.

The police through spokesman Erick Kiraithe also expressed opposition to the proposal, terming it is a serious security risk to the country and may amount to mutiny in the event the guards participate in an industrial strike once they are armed.

Mr Kiraithe argued that since private security guards were entitled to join unions, there was a likelihood they may participate in industrial strikes, posing a danger to them and the general public if allowed to carry firearms.

Members of the disciplined forces are not allowed by law to join unions.

Security experts have also argued the move would compromise national security because private guards do not undergo a rigorous training to instill discipline in them.


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