Wednesday, September 29, 2010

G4S-Malawi workers’ compensation a pittance- union

A prominent workers’ union representing the interests of security guards in the country has quashed the K500, 000 compensation awarded to two G4S employees injured while on duty, describing the monetary compensation as a “pittance”.
The Textile Garments, Leather and Security Services Workers Union (TGLSSWU) says the gesture to give K544, 008.35 to Cosmas Harawa and Benson Phiri reflected the little regard employers accord security workers in Malawi, yet guards were in an occupational risk that put their lives on the line everyday.
MacDonald Chuma, TGLSSWU deputy General Secretary, said on Tuesday the money was barely enough to enable the two employees live a better life, since they could not discharge their normal duties as was rightly observed during the presentation ceremony by G4S Managing Director Basie Loubser.
Loubser said during presentation of cheques to the two employees the compensation package was meant to “enable them live a better life since they cannot discharge their normal duties”, a statement the security workers union say is merely a smoke-screen since K544, 008.35 is not even “enough to buy a second-hand minibus”.
Harawa, who was a dog handler, got injured on December 1, 2007 when armed robbers stormed Mbayani Filling Station, where he was on duty, and shot him on both thighs. Phiri lost his right eye and suffered serious injuries to his right leg when robbers attacked him while guarding at Dyson Kamkwatira’s residence in Chileka, on August 27 last year.
“We feel it is a mockery to these people and their families because they will never be able to discharge their duties normally again, and that puts a strain on their family. In fact, giving the two administrative duties should not be the reason they have received a pittance like K544, 008.35 because we have information from GMB, the union that represents G4S workers in the United Kingdom, that guards there receive much more than this,” said Chuma.
He added that it was hard to understand the reason Malawian guards were being given “below-par compensation” yet their colleagues working for the same company elsewhere were entitled to better compensation packages.
The move to compensate Harawa and Phiri is part of a newly-introduced Employee Trust Fund set aside by G4S in the UK to compensate workers injured while on duty. On June 3 this year, the G4S Cash Services and the GMB Union announced to Members of Parliament in Westminster the launch of a fund aimed at providing financial assistance to employees who suffer serious injury as a result of criminal attacks at work.
The fund, named The Criminal Attack Fund, awards workers based on the effect of an injury on the employee and is fully financed by contributions made by both the company and its employees, according to Chuma.
G4S Chief Executive Officer for Cash Services, Ian Nisbet, was quoted last month as saying the fund would go a long way in acting as a safety net for G4S workers, adding while the company was striving to reduce the number of attacks on guards, their safety and welfare came first in cases of attack.
Even GMB Union National Officer, Gary Smith, welcomed the development but warned that compensation should apply equally to all G4S workers world wide, a point Chuma said seemed to be overlooked in the Malawi scenario.
Said Chuma:“But that is not our only worry, the other problem is that it is only two employees who have been compensated yet we have records of more than 15 security guards who have been seriously injured in the course of duty but are yet to be compensated.”
He urged other security companies, however, to emulate the G4S gesture. Chuma also said companies should design their compensation packages in such a way that, after calculations, it should be 100 times more than the salary for security workers to be dedicated.
The Compensation Act we have now, he said, is outdated and should be reviewed. The TGLSSWU accused the Malawi Law Commission on the Review of the Constitution of frustrating security workers efforts in the quest for favourable conditions of service.
Security workers are some of the lowest paid workers in Malawi, receiving U$D23 on average, he added.

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