DISGRUNTLED security guards in Maseru have accused their employers of abuses that include arming them with unlicensed and defective guns.
The guards told the Lesotho Times in a recent interview that they were also underpaid by their employers despite the regulation that they should earn a minimum of M2700.
Paolosi Ramokoatsi, the leader of Re llela Khotso guards’ union said their salaries were so low that they were struggling to make ends meet. He said they have to seek extra jobs and even borrow to survive.
He said among other grievances, they were unfairly treated by their employers who denied female guards maternity leave, sometimes paid them half their salaries and failed to pay for overtime.
Mr Ramokoatsi said they were pleading with the ministry of Trade to licence them to open their own security companies. He said they would also petition the ministry of Labour to investigate the issue of poor working conditions at the security companies.
“According to a 15 June 2018 government gazette, we have to get M2700 and except for two security companies which we cannot mention, the rest are giving us anything from M800 to M1500,” Mr Ramokoatsi said.
“These salaries do not always come in one instalment. Last month I got M500 and they gave me the rest later in the month. It is such an inconvenience because I am now forced to survive on borrowing money.
“Our salaries are very low and sometimes we are forced to transfer to other places which require us to spend money which we do not have. Among other things, we have to pay for accommodation, we also have to buy furniture as one cannot live in an empty house. We also need to send money home and it is evident that that M500 is not enough,” he said.
Mr Ramokoatsi said some of the guards are also given unlicensed firearms which put them at risk with the law.
“Some of our members are given unlicensed guns which they are afraid of using as they could land them in trouble with the law because the security companies tell us to claim the guns as our own,” he said.
He said their lives were often in danger because at times they are given faulty guns or are deployed on duty without any weapons.
Mr Ramokoatsi further lamented the poor treatment of female guards. He said the female guards are only afforded the normal 12 days which are given to every employee on an annual basis instead of maternity leave.
“Obviously a woman needs more leave days after giving birth and the 12 days are not enough. Women who ask for more leave days are told to go and rest but they are not allowed to come back afterwards.”
Mr Ramokoatsi said while they were supposed to be insured by their employers in the event of death, this did not appear to be the case as their members were buried in sub-standard coffins and their families did not receive any financial assistance from the security companies.
However, one of the owners of the security firms, Pusetso Mohlali of Quick Actions dismissed Mr Ramokoatsi’s allegations, saying the guards’ union was out to tarnish reputation of the security companies.
“I know one of the members of this union and he used to work for me. I paid him all his benefits but I know that he is going around and spreading these false allegations about the security companies,” Mr Mohlali said.