Top civilian security firms in the country agreed to increase the minimum wage of a security guard for a day, implement modern technology, and band t ogether against under quoting i n tenders; especially t o government institutions to ensure survival of t heir i ndustry, at t he inaugural Sri Lanka Security Service Providers’ Association (SLASSPA) CEO Forum which was held at the Hilton Residencies yesterday.
“We are morally under obligation as entrepreneurs to treat the poor guards on the ground as well. Over time, proper standards, rules and regulations, and professionalism are needed,” SLASSPA President Major Tissa Aluwihare said.
Currently, security guards are entitled to Rs. 598 as a wage for a 12 hour shift, which is much less than the Rs. 1000 in addition to meals a construction labourer commands for 8 hours daily.
Security companies are also obligated to pay EPF/ETF, taxes, and administrative, operational and other costs in addition to making a profit, which had resulted in top companies quoting Rs. 998 as their service fee from clients, and those present agreed to a future minimum service fee of Rs. 1,400 to accommodate a Rs. 1,000 daily wage for security guards.
However, certain companies quote service fees between Rs. 400-600, especially to government institutes such as municipal councils and local governments, claiming lack of other costs while not even covering the guard’s wages, and SLASSPA requested its members to inform the body of such malpractices.
“I don’t know why Dr. Jayasundera is not consulting us to bridge this budget deficit. We’re the masters,” SLASSPA Vice President Colonel Jayavi Fernando said in a lighter tone.
“Police have taken legal action against 76 security firms, and 46 of these 76 were never registered,” Ministry of Defence and Urban Development Additional Secretary D. M. S. D. Jayaratne said.
Of over 500 security companies in operation in the country, only 321 are registered with the Ministry, and Fernando said that the whole industry would be strong-armed by the Ministry and the Department of Labour to maintain standards.
Aluwihare also suggested the ministry should cease issuances of new security licenses till the industry stabilized.
He suggested that decisive action by both the authorities and SLASSPA members would ensure the increase of wages for the most important resource in security; the guard, who looks after customer assets worth millions of rupees.
“If big companies go do CSR at schools but gives Rs. 600 to the person who carries their briefcase, that’s hypocrisy. CSR needs to start at home,” he said.
Meanwhile, SLASSPA Past President Major Vijith Welikala said that clients with limited budgets could be given the same or even better level of service while increasing the wage rate. He suggested the archaic Sri Lankan security industry move on to the digital world, with CCTVs, automated gates and sensors, with which 3 guards could do the job of 6.
Eighty thousand people are employed in the industry, of which over 50,000 are ex-servicemen. However, the industry is currently experiencing high turnover and a human capital shortage of 20 percent, while certain companies are struggling with over 40 percent job vacancies due to poor payment, lack of training and professionalism.