Kenya: How private security firms exploit workers despite making millions; including allegedly lobbying against proposed pay hike

Author: Paul Wafula, Daily Nation (Kenya), Published on: 13 January 2020

"Security firms bank billions as guards earn peanuts"

At the height of the al-Shabaab attacks, every major installation in the country had to hire a security guard to watch over their entrances...In less than three years, the sector more than tripled its earnings and numbers. And from below 500 security companies, more investors pumped cash into the sector to take advantage of the growing demand. This saw the number of security companies grow three-fold to over 2,000 now. Today, there is a private security company in almost every major town...

 If a security company earns just Sh10,000 every month from each of these guards, in total they end up earning over Sh60 billion yearly. The more established ones charge up to Sh60,000 per security guard and, factoring in this, the sector could easily be earning more than Sh100 billion a year in revenue. It is these billions that are at the centre of a conspiracy between some private security companies and lawmakers that has seen the men and women who do the actual job end up with a sad Christmas as their employers smiled all the way to the bank. Besides exploitation, more than 200 female employees are fired every year because of being pregnant at the “wrong time”...

New regulations presented to Parliament were supposed to cure these grievances. However, justice for the guards may not be attained soon as the MPs appeared to have had a change of heart at the last minute...Smart Company has learnt that there was heavy lobbying from a group of security firms, some owned by the same political class, who colluded to defeat the proposed provisions of the security law. At the end of the lobbying, legislators made a sharp about-turn and recommended the annulment of the regulations meant to uplift the guards’ standards of living.

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