Eng. Karunasena Hettiarachchi, Secretary, Ministry of Defence being escorted in by Major Tissa Aluwihare, President of SLASSPA
The 11th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Sri Lanka Security Service Provider Association (SLASSPA), under the theme ‘Thinking Beyond Borders’ was held recently at Taj Samudra, Colombo under the distinguished patronage of Defence Ministry Secretary Eng. Karunasena Hettiarachchi.
Delivering the welcome address, SLASSPA President Major Tissa Aluwihare said that the industry is faced with some major challenges such as the severe shortage of manpower, ruthless price undercutting, non-compliance of certain companies – for example, by not paying even the stipulated minimum wages to hard-working guards, by not paying EPF/ETF, by letting guards work in in-humane working conditions.
He said, this situation creates a ‘Vicious Cycle’ from within. Our ultimate aim is to turn this ‘Vicious Cycle’ into a ‘Positive Cycle’ through a well planned, step-by-step image-building exercise, encompassing all stakeholders of the Industry – namely the security companies, the workforce, the governing body (the Ministry of Defense) and the clients.”
To this end, Major Aluwihare said: “4 years ago, SLASSPA realized that the problem was so deep rooted, that it had to create awareness and shift thinking of a whole industry with 100,000 security personnel along with over 300 entrepreneurs plus other stakeholders and the governing authorities. A Paradigm shift in mindsets was needed. This is when the SLASSPA Secretariat initiated the journey to bring about this change.”
He further stated, that he as the President of SLASSPA took the initiative to start and lead the mission to create awareness for the foundation of the Industry – namely the GUARD - and shift step-by-step the image of the Industry into something much more positive and aspirational over time.
As a first important step Major Aluwihare initiated the first ever “CEO Forum late 2014, to which SLASSPA invited all the stakeholders of the industry to educate them on the need to be compliant as a first priority – for example: pay their salaries and statutory benefits properly and timely.
In the next phase, he said, a huge media campaign was carried out to create awareness and stimulate a change in the way clients see and feel about their guards working on the motto “CSR begins at home!”
The aim was to show clients that by paying lower service fees, it supports a situation wherein the guards receive a substandard salary, hence cannot make ends meet and end up in a ‘vicious cycle of indebtedness’ at the end of each month leading to a frustrating situation for all concerned.
“In the 3rd phase, we then invited all the stakeholders to a forum with the theme “Think beyond Borders”, where we addressed the owners of the security companies not to undercut prices, but to demand fair, workable rates from potential new clients as otherwise it would only result in a disgruntled guard force delivering poor service. A “no-win” situation for the guards, the clients and the company”.
He concluded by saying: “With these three pragmatic steps, we have overcome the first hurdle and started changing mindsets in the SL security industry including all its stakeholders. This is a big achievement in just one year and an important stepping stone towards an “IDEAL Industry”, with high trust levels as in other parts of the world.”