The private security industry in the city is in a fix with both the employees and employers finding the going tough.

While those employed for private security bemoan meagre wages paid to them, employers are agitated over the burgeoning operational expenses, which they claim are making the business more unfeasible by the day.

D. Reghunath Panaveli, president, Kerala State Private Security Contractors Federation, said hotels and security agencies had become safe havens for migrants and locals with criminal antecedents. “Unhealthy trends prevailing in the industry whereby clients (principal employers) opt for the services of agencies that quote the lowest price with scant regard for their reputation has led to such a situation. Such agencies often recruit senior citizens unfit for the job at a paltry pay. Some of these agencies do not have offices, let alone registration under the Registrar of Companies Act, or service tax, income tax, Provident Fund or ESI registrations. The Federation has made these statutory registrations and police verification reports mandatory for membership,” he said.

The Federation will submit a memorandum to the Assembly Subject Committee headed by M. Ummar, MLA, for the implementation of the Private Security Agencies (Regulation) Act. They will demand that Rs.12,000 be fixed as a base price for availing the service of a security guard.

A recognised security agency is supposed to pay its employee a minimum of Rs.8,364 for eight-hour duty days in a month. “Everybody blames security agencies for not meeting this commitment while turning a blind eye to the fact that this will not be possible unless the principal employer makes a proportionate fee for the service they avail of,” Mr. Panaveli said.

As part of streamlining and ensuring efficiency of services, the Federation opened three training academies for security guards in Ernakulam, Thrissur, and Thiruvananthapuram a few months ago. Another one is likely to be opened in Kannur shortly.

K.B. Haneef, State general secretary of the AITUC-affiliated Kerala Security Employees Union, said principal employers must chip in more to ensure minimum wages were paid to security guards. “Ironically, the State government is the biggest culprit here. Except for a few, most government undertakings do not pay the minimum wages. Though the Labour Minister has promised to take steps to rectify this, it is yet to happen,” he said.

Mr. Haneef said despite Reserve Bank of India stipulations, some private lending institutions doing considerable business have stopped the services of security guards, thereby compromising the security of operations. “We have written to the RBI citing this anomaly,” he said.

Meanwhile, the police have recommended no objection certificates for 88 security agencies in Ernakulam to the Home Department for licences under the Private Security Agencies (Regulation) Act based on verification of the antecedents of the operators.

“The applications will be further scrutinised by the Home Department based on the provisions of the Rules after which a decision will be taken on issuing licenses,” said Tommy Sebastian, Assistant Commissioner, District Special Branch.

However, the fact remains that many of these agencies that have applied for licences are already functioning and may have persons with dubious records in their rolls.

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