Guards suffering in silence

On the lookout: Residents rely on the guards to lower crime rate at their housing estate. — filepic

EXPLOITATION of security guards is a common occurrence although not openly discussed.

Despite the implementation of a RM900 minimum wage excluding allowances and overtime, many of them are still not getting the pay they rightfully deserve.

Worse still, some do not have Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and Social Security Organisation (Socso) benefits, health and medical benefits, off days or annual leave.

Rajan, a security guard at a gated and guarded housing project off Jalan Gopeng, said in the first place, most guards do not exist on paper.

“Many like myself, do not have any employment documents or salary slips.

“Hence, we are passed off as casual or part-time workers.

“This is also their excuse for not contributing to our EPF or Socso and not providing medical benefits.

“I work 12 hours a day, 365 days a year for a mere RM300 monthly basic, which with my allowances, add up to just about RM1,000 a month,” said the 69-year-old, who in actual fact should not be a security guard because of his advanced age.

Rajan added that if he were to fall sick, he had to fork out for medical bills.

“I would not be paid for the days I do not work as well.

“I stay on and suffer in silence because I need the money to survive.

“At my age, there isn’t much I can do and definitely, there isn’t anyone who will hire me,” he said.

Relating a similar scenario, Sammy, who has been working as a school security guard for the past year, said he was hospitalised at the Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital when his blood pressure and sugar levels dropped dangerously low last July.

“I ended up not working for two weeks and I did not get paid for the entire duration,” he said.

Sammy’s monthly basic is RM900.

“It is equivalent to RM35 per day or RM4.30 per hour.

“With four hours of overtime daily from Mondays to Sundays, I should be getting RM1,700 to RM1,800 but instead, I’m only getting RM1,640.

“My superior claims that the rest of the money are deductions for EPF and Socso but the money was never deposited into my accounts,” he said, adding that it should be double pay on Sundays and public holidays as well.

Prior to the implementation of a minimum wage for security guards last January, Sammy was only getting RM1,160 per month.

“I’m paid cash. There is no salary slip to prove my earnings, only a payment voucher. Actually, I do not even know who is my employer. I’ve heard he is some Datuk but which Datuk, I have no idea,” said Sammy.

The 50-year-old father of four added that because he could not prove his income, he was unable to secure a housing loan for a low-cost house and had to continue renting.

“My wife is also a security guard and has to tolerate the same unfair treatment.

“She is still owed 11 months arrears due to the implementation of the RM900 minimum wage last year.

“She is supposed to get a total of RM4,400 but instead, has only been paid RM2,000,” he said.

Sammy added that since they did not actually “exist”, they had no avenue to make a complaint.

“And yet, we persist and stay on because we still have two schoolgoing children,” he said.

One of the main reasons why security guards accept such deplorable working terms is because their employers are gangsters.

A security guard at a condominium in the city centre, Sri, a Nepalese married to a local woman, has been in Malaysia since 1989.

“I’m paid RM43.60 for 12 hours of work, sometimes it drags to 14 hours without overtime pay.

“Our employer is a well-known gangster head in the area. Who would dare complain?” he said.

As for his countrymen, who were brought in through “proper channels”, Sri said they too were given an unfair deal.

“Their contracts state clearly that they should be paid RM1,550 per month and given the day off during public holidays such as Chinese New Year.

“Not only do they not get the day off, there is no extra pay for work carried out on such occasions.

“Their salaries are also deducted for housing expenses,” he said.

It was recently reported that amendments would be made to the Private Agencies Act 1971 to rein in the problem-ridden security industry.

Under the proposed amendment to the Act, companies can only lease their security licences to others with the ministry’s approval as gangs had been exploiting this loophole to venture into the security business.

The ministry is also proposing amendments to the Act to make it illegal for companies to open branches without proper vetting and approval and to hold company owners accountable for those operating their branches.

Other amendments may include penalties for hiring overaged or untrained guards and for not paying the minimum wage and the EPF.

A labour department spokesman told The Star that the terms of employment for security guards were no different from those holding other jobs.

He further revealed that employment letters were not compulsory as verbal contracts were valid as well.

“Every employee is free to enter into any contract of employment with an employer as long as it is according to the law.

“Of course, we have received complaints from some of those working as security guards but we cannot make a general assumption that the problems they have presented affects all.

“In any case, I believe the department should not be blamed for not taking any action against the employers if people willingly take on the position under unfair terms,” he said.

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