Members of Parliament (MP) have lambasted private security companies that continue to exploit their workers.
The legislators raised their concerns when discussing the Ministry of Employment, Labour and Skills Development budget that was tabled by the Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Peggy Serame. She was tabling the budget on behalf of labour minister Mpho Balopi recently in Parliament. They said the majority of private security companies still delay salary payments of their employees, ill-treat workers and refuse to neither give them leave nor pay for the leave days.
The legislators said the ill-treatment of security company workers has been worsening, especially over the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic because if they are part of the contact tracing and told to isolate for 10 days their employers replace those days with their off and leave days.
The legislators said they continue to receive complaints from employees accusing their employers of non-compliance with the Employment Act. They further pleaded with the minister to keep a close eye on security companies because a majority of them continue to exploit their workers, especially during COVID-19.
The MP for Francistown East, who is also the Assistant Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Buti Billy said when security employees are told to isolate by health workers their employers take their off and leave days to replace the 10 days of isolation, something which is totally unacceptable.
He stated that some employees were not paid full salaries after their employers subtracted the days they took whilst in isolation. “This behaviour is uncalled for and has forced workers to no longer disclose when their family members and friends test positive of COVID-19. Please keep an eye on these companies lest the whole nation perishes of COVID-19. Imagine the number of people that the security officers expose to coronavirus if they fail to disclose to be part of any contact tracing, this is a serious matter that needs immediate attention,” Billy said. Billy stated that a State of Emergency (SoE) was put in place to protect workers, but it seems like that is not the case
Sharing the same sentiments, the MP for Ngwaketse West Mephato Reatile pleaded with the minister to improve the welfare and working conditions of private employers because they continue to be exploited by their employers. He said every year the ministry increases civil servants’ salaries by certain percentages, but it does not care whether private companies do the same thing or not. “Private companies continue to ill-treat workers and the government is turning a blind eye because the majority of those companies are the ones that are usually seen sponsoring their campaigns ahead of the General Election.
Even those private companies’ payments and minimum wage is very low but surprisingly those companies pay better salaries in the neighbouring country of South Africa,” he said. He added that the situation is even worse for private security workers because their dispute cases are overwhelming the courts after some were left unpaid. Other MPs shared the same sentiments pleading with the minister to attend to Parliament’s plea before more people are lost due to COVID-19. Responding to MPs concerns, minister Serame conceded to be aware of the complaints around COVID-19. She said some companies have been cutting workers’ salaries whilst some were not paid their salaries at all, as companies were taking advantage of the pandemic. “This is a serious concern because workers’ leave and off days are taken to replace their 10 days of COVID-19 isolation. We have received such complaints, but it is something that we are currently dealing with because companies were given guidelines amid COVID-19. This week we will be meeting with relevant departments and stakeholders to address these concerns,” he said.