Guards take pay dispute to court

August 14, 2012 3:25 pm
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The guards argue that the 52 private security firms had failed to honour the directive to increase their salary by 18 percent in 2009, 20 percent in 2010 and 12.5 percent in 2011/FILE

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 14 – Fifty-two private security firms have been sued for failing to comply with the minimum wage directive for their guards.

The case was filed on behalf of the guards by the Kenya National Private Security Workers’ Union, which is demanding an increase in arrears since 2009, when the minimum wage order was announced by the government.

The guards argue that the 52 private security firms had failed to honour the directive to increase their salary by 18 percent in 2009, 20 percent in 2010 and 12.5 percent in 2011.

The final phase of 3.1 percent increment was supposed to be made this year.

“They have to be paid all the arrears since 2009. There is no question about it,” the union’s secretary general Isaac Andabwa told journalists in Nairobi on Tuesday.

Andabwa said the affected private security guards had waited for their dues long enough, during which they explored all the necessary options.

“This (legal) action is our last option, we have explored all the other avenues,” he said.

Labour minister John Munyes had last month appealed to the guards not to move to court and instead allow time for further consultations and implementation.

In March this year, the union threatened to mobilise all security guards to boycott work until their demands are met. The union later withdrew the strike notice when the government assured it will push the security firms to comply with the order.

“We therefore believe in dialogue in order to find a fair resolution to tame the strike notice which we had issued on March 19, 2012 through the minister’s intervention of inspection of the said companies violating labour laws and order,” he observed.

The ministry had assured the guards that it would carry out a thorough audit of the security firms that fail to comply with the minimum wage order, but little was done.

“There is nothing that has been done to pay the guards, that is why we moved to court to help them out,” he added.

The union is accusing some private security firms of violating the worker’s rights by deducting them unnecessary dues while failing to remit statutory deductions like the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) contributions and the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF).

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