Private security firms ordered to suspend COTU remittances

Tuesday, April 16th, 2024 04:31 | By
Security guards in parade. PHOTO/Print

The Private Security Regulatory Authority (PSRA) has ordered all security firms to immediately cease deductions and remittances of security guards’ union contributions to Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU).

PSRA Director General Fazul Mahammed also said following the numerous complaints from private security officers, investigations had been launched on the collection and use of all the finances that have been deducted and remitted to COTU.

“Pending conclusion of the investigation, all private security companies are hereby directed to effective immediately stop deducting and remitting private security officers’ trade union fees to the COTU,” Mahammed directed.

PSRA said preliminary investigations revealed that the over 1.3 million guards had contributed billions of shillings to COTU, and which could not be adequately accounted for.

“The Authority, with the aim of protecting the welfare and rights of over 1.3 million private security guards, has instituted an investigation on the collection and use of all finances that have been deducted and remitted to COTU by private security companies,” Mahammed said.

Private guards welfare

And in a swift rejoinder, COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli COTU refuted claims that the union had failed to advocate for the welfare of private security guards as he highlighted the measures taken to safeguard their interests.

“It is COTU (K) that gave the Kenya National Private Security Workers Union (KNPSWU) impetus to revamp and as a result saw the election of Isaac Andabwa as the General Secretary for the union,” Atwoli observed.

“In 2007, the Kenya Guards Workers Union changed to the Kenya National Private Security Workers Union and through the efforts of Atwoli, the Union has stabilised with a stable leadership,” he said.

Atwoli noted that while COTU supports the ongoing reforms in the sector, they also remain fearful that the process has been hijacked.

“PSRA has been the greatest impediment to the enhancement of the rights and welfare of private security guards as COTU (K) has received numerous complaints on the same through our affiliate union, Kenya National Private Security Workers Union,” the COTU boss claimed.

But Mahammed said the decision follows complaints from security guards regarding fund usage and their welfare.

Remitted to COTU

Private security companies have consistently deducted trade union fees from private security guards and subsequently remitted the said contributions to the COTU.

Mahammed however said that though the guards had made significant financial contributions, COTU has not lived up to its mandate and has persistently disregarded, declined, and/or neglected to advocate for their rights, advocate for compliance with minimum wage and promote their general welfare.

“As outlined in COTU’s constitutive document, part of the organization core mandate is to represent the voices of workers and actively fight for their social and economic welfare,” Mahammed said.

According to PSRA, private security officers constitute a large percentage of COTU’s membership and despite their low salaries have faithfully contributed trade union fees to COTU for decades.

The directive, which was copied to all directors, CEOs and shareholders of private security firms and the guards, states that the order shall remain in force until such a time the authority expressly directs otherwise.

Mahammed said Section 10(b) of the Private Security Regulations Act mandates the PSRA to conduct or cause to be conducted investigations and inquiries with regard to any matter falling within the scope of its function.

“Any private security company that continues to deduct and remit the said fees to the COTU shall be subjected to a statutory review of its registration and licensing status,” he further warned.

On March 30, Mahammed warned the COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli that guards toil day and night to pay their monthly contribution to COTU. “However, COTU does not fight for the interest of guards, it has become another money-making scheme. Atwoli has been at COTU for 23 years, what has he done for security guards in this country?” he asked.

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